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The interests in online gambling in EU

The interests in online gambling in EU

(a) Citizens. Many EU citizens purchase on-line gambling services for entertainment purposes1, while a smaller group of players make a living as professional gamblers (e.g. professional poker players) and there are also associations/syndicates operating in the EU market. Many of these users, either because of a lack of national supply of such services or because they seek to maximise their return on stakes, search across competing on-line gambling services across borders.

According to a study from 2006, the profile of an average on-line gambler seems to differ from that of a traditional casino or betting shop customer and tends to reflect the profile of the average internet user – young and educated. On-line gambling also attracts more women than traditional bricks and mortar forms of gambling, as the internet sites are easy to customise and the offer of gambling services may be designed to appeal to the female population2.

Citizens who gamble may be interested, inter alia, in the following issues:

  • Protection from fraud (where on-line gambling is permitted) in that the supply of services should come from licensed operators and be well regulated and supervised by relevant authorities. This also includes protection from misleading and aggressive marketing practices.1
  • Choice / economic interest in terms of attractive selection of gambling services and good payback ratio.
  • Fairness which includes that games are regulated and supervised. Fairness also includes transparency conditions; that potential users receive information on the rules of the game, the chance of winning and basic information about the operator before he/she takes up the offer.

Citizens may have an interest in prohibitions or restrictions to the provision and/or promotion of on-line gambling services for various reasons, including moral, religious or related to public health. It must be noted that there are citizens who have problems with their gambling habits and need help and support to address this.

These citizens may be interested, inter alia, in the following issues:

  • Restrictions on commercial communications (e.g. prohibition of billboard advertising close to religious premises or schools) and exposure of on-line gambling in the editorial content of the media.
  • Access to treatment for gambling addiction.
  • Assistance for problem gamblers and/or their families to get their financial problems.

(b) Operators, providers of online gambling services, include private and public companies and foundations set up for the purpose to provide gambling services. They may have a business model that is based on exclusively providing online gambling or a mix of online and offline gambling. Operators also include gambling service providers that have their main source of revenues from other activities such as media operators or producers or retailers that organise promotional games.

Their key interests may include, inter alia,:

  • Commercial objectives in that they wish to benefit from the scale and of the Internal Market (market access) and have the legal security to exploit these commercial opportunities.
  • Fairness and crime prevention (in particular to prevent fraud by players and match fixing).

(c) Media operators may have a double interest in online gambling. They both

(i) offer gambling services directly to consumers by using their audiovisual platform interactively (e.g. IPTV) or in combination with for example premium rate phone lines (calls or sms) and

(ii) promote gambling services offered by other gambling operators (advertising and sponsorship).

Moreover, they have an interest in a clear regulatory framework as they may be retransmitting lottery draws (or poker tournaments) into non-national territories and be held responsible for displaying visual images of events that expose commercial communications/promotions of gambling services or (advertising on players jerseys or billboards at an arena) for which they do not receive any reimbursement. There is also an increasing number of specialised magazines that are dedicated to online gambling (in particular poker).

To summarise, their key interests may, inter alia, include:

  • Commercial objectives – to benefit from the Internal Market (media sales / advertising).
  • legal security – including definitions of gambling services or rules on when a license is required for a game show.
  • the same as an operator (see operator above) if they offer on-line gambling services.

(d) Intermediaries, include internet service providers, data (storage) centres, providers of telecom/broadband infrastructure, hard- and software producers, payment service providers.

They also include insurance companies (to the extent that bookmakers or other operators insure risks), advertising agencies, media sales companies, event organisers, sport wear producers (e.g. sales of replica football jerseys).3

Key interests:

  • Commercial – innovative businesses providing on-line gambling services are often driving developments in other areas by offering new revenue streams for these on-line and off-line service providers.
  • Legal security (for example, clear rules on commercial communications to enter into sponsorship agreements with on-line gambling operators)

(e) Sport event organisers; Organisers of horse races and other sports events and interest groups linked to such events.

Key interests include:

  • Economic – to ensure that some of the proceeds from on-line betting are used to finance the events or the activities on which the bets are placed.
  • Integrity – to prevent that sport events are subject to manipulation.

f) Good causes and other beneficiaries; Organisations or entities that receive a share of the proceeds from on-line gambling without being involved in the organisation of the activity.

These include registered charities, grass root sport organisations, cultural organisations or institutes as well as Member States (fiscal revenues or license fees).

Key interests:

  • Economic (It must be noted that a sport or cultural body that enters into a sponsorship agreement and therefore receives funds should be considered to be an Intermediary, mentioned under (d) above)

(g) Regulators and authorities include gambling regulators, police authorities, national Courts, consumer agencies and self regulatory associations in the area of advertising,

(h) Other stakeholders, Any other stakeholder not listed above including: organisations, institutes (private or public) or individuals working with treatment and/or research relating to problem gambling and addiction, persons practising a legal profession (individual judges, public prosecutors or lawyers), academics, employees working for online operators, offline operators whose business may be affected by the supply of online and investors.


1 Gambling being an entertainment service is also reflected in its statistical classification – CPA section R: Arts, entertainment and recreation services (two specific codes for online gambling: 92.00.14 Online gambling services and 92.00.21 On-line betting services). On-line gambling is an area where a large number of citizens have tried to benefit from an extensive offer from operators established in another Member State. For example, one commercial operator (Betfair) processes 5.5 million transactions a day, which according to the company corresponds to twice the amount of all EU stock exchanges together.

2 Department for Culture, Media and Sports (UK), “A Literature Review and Survey of Statistical Sources on Remote Gambling” Final Report, RSeconsulting, October 2006

3 One of the seven goals listed in the Commission’s digital agenda3 is a new Single Market to deliver the benefits of the digital era.

Credit © European Union

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