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Definition of on-line gambling services in EU

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A large number of differing gambling services are covered by the term “online gambling”. These include on-line provision of sports betting services (including horse racing), casino games, spread betting, media games, promotional games, gambling services operated by and for the benefit of recognised charities and non-profit making organisations and lottery services.

Internet (and other interactive technological platforms, such as m-commerce (Mobile Commerce – completed by using mobile access to computer-mediated networks with the help of an electronic device (for example a mobile phone).) or IPTV) are used to (a) offer gambling services to consumers, (b) allow consumers to bet or gamble against each other (e.g. betting exchanges or on-line poker) or (c) as a distribution technique (e.g. to purchase lottery tickets directly on-line).

The long-standing definition that exists for gambling activities in general in EU secondary legislation is that relied upon to exclude such services from the e-commerce directive:

“gambling activities …involve wagering a stake with monetary value in games of chance, including lotteries and betting transactions.”

In later texts such as the Services directive and most recently in the Audiovisual Media Services Directive a slightly different definition is “games of chance involving a stake representing a sum of money, including lotteries, betting and other forms of gambling services” (In a proposal for a regulation concerning sales promotions on the Internal Market – COM(2001)546 – the Commission drew a distinction between games of chance and games of skill. This was necessary due to differing national definitions of “chance”. Such differences could also be explaining differing national regulations of certain betting activities or poker.). The term ‘casino’ is not defined in the Money laundering Directive.

Subject to the outcome of the present consultation, it is the Commission’s preliminary view that the broader definition as set down in the e-commerce directive should be maintained for gambling and that this should be combined with that for information society services as set down in Directive 98/34/EC such that the following common definition for on-line gambling services should be applied as defining the scope of the current consultation:

On-line gambling services are any service which involves wagering a stake with monetary value in games of chance, including lotteries and betting transactions that are provided at a distance, by electronic means and at the individual request (“At a distance” and “at the individual request” meaning a direct on-line request from the recipient to the on-line gambling operator without reliance on any intermediaries such as shop staff working at a point of sale. To the extent that the distance transaction takes place through a network of natural persons acting as intermediaries using electronic means it is not intended to be contained in the above definition.) of a recipient of services.

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