The Commission wants to collect detailed information and data on key policy issues such as organisation of on-line gambling services and enforcement of applicable laws; consumer protection and other relevant public policy challenges, as well as commercial communications and payment services.
Contributions to the consultation can be submitted until 31 July 2011.
Internal Market and Services Commissioner Michel Barnier said: "With this Green Paper, we have launched an ambitious consultation with no pre-determined views on its possible follow-up. The on-line gambling market in the EU continues to grow rapidly and generates important revenues that are sometimes channelled into good causes. Its expansion must go hand-in-hand with a determination to protect our citizens, especially minors, and to ensure that offers of these types of services within the EU are sound and well-regulated."
Currently, national legal frameworks vary enormously across the EU, with different rules applying to licensing, related on-line services, payments, public interest objectives, and the fight against fraud.
In addition, there is a considerable illegal market for on-line gambling services in the EU. It is estimated that for each licensed on-line gambling website worldwide, there are more than five websites offering on-line poker or sports betting without having a licence.
On-line gambling is a fast developing business in Europe, with almost 15,000 websites already identified and total annual revenues exceeding €6 billion (£5.3bn) in 2008 and expected to double in size by 2013.
The green paper is in response to calls from the European Parliament and the member states to examine the sector. The results of the consultation will be assessed thoroughly before any follow-up action is determined by the Commission.
The key policy issues
1. Definition and organisation of on-line gambling services: the main advantages and/or difficulties associated with the co-existence in the EU of different national systems and practices for the licensing of on-line gambling services.
2. Related services performed and/or used by on-line gambling services providers: rules and practices relating to on-line commercial communication, customer identification and regulations for payment systems for on-line gambling services and player accounts.
3. Public interest objectives: focuses on three objectives which to varying degrees may be valid for member states in terms of their national on-line gambling policies:
- Consumer protection: the consultation aims to collect information on problem gambling and addiction and measures to protect players and prevent or limit such problems. Another key issue is how to ensure the protection of minors and other vulnerable groups.
- Public order: best practices to detect and prevent fraud, money laundering and other crimes.
- Financing of benevolent and public interest activities and events: the differing systems of revenue channelling for public interest activities and mechanisms for redistributing revenues from public and private on-line gambling services to the benefit of society such as the arts, education or sport.
4. Enforcement: evaluation of current enforcement systems and cross-border cooperation between member states and gather factual information on the efficiency of the existing blocking systems (such as payment blocking or domain name filtering).
The channels used to offer on-line gambling services are namely the internet, mobile applications and Internet Protocol Television (IPTV).
For more information, please contact the London press office on 020 7973 1971.
Please note: all amounts expressed in sterling are for information purposes only