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Remote Gambling and the Land-Based Gambling Market in European Union

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In terms of trying to appreciate what the effect of continuing evolution of remote gambling companies and technologies will have on traditional gambling services sectors, it is necessary to speculate on how their presence will affect aggregate demand for gambling within the EU. One possible effect of introducing new forms of remote gambling may be to expand demand for land-based gambling services, as people learn to enjoy commercial gambling via the internet and are thereby encouraged to sample land-based opportunities.

As gambling is made more accessible and convenient, consumers may choose to allocate a greater portion of their discretionary income to this form of entertainment. Indeed, this is one explanation for the variations in the ratios of GGRs to Gross Domestic Product between EU Member States and other countries such as Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

Thus, as remote gambling opportunities become increasingly available and attractive, the empirical questions of note will be whether consumers increase their aggregate spending on gambling services enough so that the substitution of remote gambling for more traditional forms of gambling (i.e. lottery, casino, gaming machines, bingo) will not be reduced in absolute terms. For comparisons, we could examine the effect of new delivery technologies in the movie business, where cable and satellite television, DVDs, home theatres, and payper- view options have led to a stagnation or decline in the cinema business. On the other hand, in spite of the ease with which sporting events can be watched on television, this has not reduced the demand for attendance at live sporting events because it has stimulated interest in sport, and broadened the consumer market.

It seems plausible to suggest, therefore, that however easily various forms of entertainment can be delivered into the home, there will still be a market for people who want to “go out.” It seems likely therefore, that a segment of the population who like to gamble are still likely to want to go out to gamble even if they also gamble at home. This will be especially true of casinos, bingo clubs, betting shops and dog and horse racing tracks.

It should also be noted that, as remote gambling evolves, an important area where growth can be expected to occur is the application of remote gambling services into traditional gambling services. It is already possible in various EU member states to purchase lottery products via the internet or to place wagers with bookmakers using mobile phones. It is also the case that the future of gambling in casinos is increasingly going to be server-based as gaming machines move increasingly to downloadable game software. It is, consequently, not unreasonable – regulators permitting – to expect the emergence of new hybrid gaming venues, such as internet sports cafes where people can eat, drink, watch racing and other sports, bet on them, and play bingo and server-based casino games, ranging from poker and blackjack to all manner of slot-machine-type games, on interactive television.

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