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EU Transparency Directive for gambling industry

The notification procedure under Directive 98/48/EC (Directive 98/34/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 June 1998 laying down a procedure for the provision of information in the field of technical standards and regulations, as amended by Directive 98/48/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 July 1998 amending Directive 98/34/EC laying down a procedure for the provision of information in the field of technical standards and regulations) (the “Transparency Directive”) allows the Commission and Member States to follow legislative developments in the Member States.

The Transparency Directive lays down a procedure for the provision of information about rules on information society services. The Directive is intended to help avoid the creation of new barriers to trade within the EU. The Directive requires Member States to notify their rules on information society services in draft form, and generally observe a standstill period of at least three months before formal adoption, in order to allow other Member States and the Commission to raise concerns about potential barriers to trade. Where notified drafts are liable to create barriers to the free provision of information society services under primary or secondary EU law, the Commission and other Member States may submit a detailed opinion, or comments in the case of more minor concerns, to the Member State that has notified the draft. Private stakeholders can submit contributions, thereby assisting the Commission and national authorities in identifying possible trade barriers at an early stage.

Over the years, the active participation of Member States in assessing the notified draft has generated an effective dialogue between them and the Commission. In the period 2009-2011, around 100 notifications were submitted by the Member States on online gambling. Recent notifications have dealt with issues such as seat requirement, server location, limitations on the number of licences and exclusive rights systems.

However, Member States do not always respect the obligation to notify draft rules on information society services under the Transparency Directive or do not provide the information as required by the Directive to properly assess if restrictions contained in the notified texts are justifiable. Moreover, Member States do not always take into account the Commission’s position or provide only brief responses to the Commission’s comments and detailed opinions. The Commission services will remain vigilant so as to ensure that unlawful barriers to online services are detected at the earliest possible stage. In this respect the Commission promotes an open and constructive dialogue with Member States in the notification process.

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