An unauthorised cross-border market may be accessible to consumers, due either to de facto tolerance or lack of effective enforcement. Effective enforcement is essential for Member States to ensure the achievement of the public interest objectives behind their national gambling policy.
Gambling authorities in the Member States
Different types of organisational structures are used for the granting of licences, regulation and supervision of on-line gambling. The independence and power of these structures vary. Within a Member State differing forms of on-line gambling services may also be regulated or supervised by separate bodies (e.g. promotional games, media games and spread betting) (The differing authorities at national level that carry out the regulatory tasks are as follows: (i) A ministry with no specialised office; (ii) A specialised office within a ministry; (iii) A ministerial office located outside the ministry; (iv) An agency/inspectorate under ministerial control; and (v) A State recognised independent regulatory body.).
Activities of gambling authorities may cover a wide range of issues, including:
– Issuing, suspending and revoking licences;
– Control and supervision functions including administrative or financial controls, onsite inspections, technical inspections (e.g. equipment or software), and on-line monitoring of activities;
– Enforcement – to open, institute and prosecute proceedings involving offences relating to
- a) provision of illegal/unauthorised gambling services; and
(b) commercial communications relating to gambling services or operators (legal as well as illegal/unauthorised gambling services);
– Providing advice, information or support to Government, players (the public) and/or operators.
Administrative cooperation between EEA regulators is today based on ad-hoc cooperation between a limited number of Member States. Regulators from all over Europe have a specific forum in which they meet, exchange views and discuss policy on gaming matters (GREF). Possible areas of administrative cooperation include sharing or exchanging information relating to:
– licence holders (including licence conditions, professional qualities of staff and integrity of operators);
– unlicensed and fraudulent operators (common blacklisting);
– issues of a technical nature, such as national standards, testing and certification;
– good practices (including public campaigns to prevent crime or problem gambling and the costs and effects of such campaigns).
Enhanced cooperation with other stakeholders
Gambling authorities in the Member States may also be working with national/European sport stakeholders and/or public/private betting operators to develop:
– Educational programmes or campaigns for athletes (amateurs and professionals), coaches, referees, persons employed in the horse racing sector or by public/private on-line gambling operators etc.; and/or
– Early warning systems to strengthen enforcement to prevent match-fixing.
Payment blocking and liability regimes for ISPs
Payment and communication providers (telecom operators, television channels and information society providers) enable on-line gambling services. Today, in order to restrict “unauthorised” and cross-border on-line gambling services the following types of methods are imposed on such intermediary service providers:
– Domain Name System (DNS) filtering; A DNS filtering mechanism seeks to ensure that potential customers are prevented to gamble on unauthorised pre-listed sites or are redirected to another address (website) on the basis of a pre-defined list of internet addresses (domain names) e.g. from a .com site to one established within the relevant national jurisdiction (Italian experiences suggest that millions of redirections take place every week.).
– Internet Protocol (IP) blocking. Every device connected to the public internet is assigned a unique number known as an IP address, which includes the hostname. IP blocking prevents the connection between a server/website and one or more IP addresses.
– Payment blocking, may be based on the operators “Merchant Category Codes” (MCC)92. However, the prohibition of processing of payments linked to a certain code may block licit commercial transactions other than payments relating to stakes and prizes.
The efficiency of a blocking system depends on a pre-defined and updated list of items to block as well as efficient software systems.
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