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Specific characteristics of online gambling in EU

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Internet constitutes a “channel” through which games of change may be offered (See Case Carmen Media Group). In light of the assessment of whether the establishment of a public monopoly on the offer of games of chance via the internet is necessary, the Court has however made clear that gambling services offered via the internet have several specific characteristics which enable the Member States to adopt measures restricting or otherwise regulating the provision of such services, in order to combat gambling addiction and protect consumers against the risks of fraud and crime.

Those specificities are the following (See most recently Zeturf; Ladbrokes Betting & Gaming and Ladbrokes International):

(1) In the sector of on-line gambling, authorities of the Member State of establishment encounter specific difficulties to assess the professional qualities and integrity of operators (Liga Portuguesa).

(2) The lack of direct contact between the consumer and the on-line gambling operator gives rise to different and more substantial risks of fraud by operators against consumers compared to the traditional gambling market (Liga Portuguesa. In Sporting Exchange, the CJEU underlined that the fact that an online operator does not pursue an active sales policy in the Member State of the consumer, particularly because he is not making use of advertising in that State, cannot be regarded as running counter to this consideration).

(3) The particular ease and the permanent access to on-line gambling services and the potentially high volume and frequency of such an international offer, in an environment which is characterised by isolation of the player, anonymity and an absence of social control are factors likely to develop gambling addiction and lead to other negative consequences. The Court has also stated that the internet may prove to be a source of risks of a different kind and of a greater order in the area of consumer protection, particularly in relation to young people and those with a propensity for gambling or likely to develop such a propensity, in comparison with traditional markets for such games (Case Carmen Media Group).

According to the Court, when assessing a national restriction on the provision of gambling services, all the substitutable marketing channels should be taken into account, unless the consequence of using the internet is to increase the risks linked to games of chance beyond those that exist in relation to games marketed through traditional channels. In the context of a national single licence system for betting on horseracing which did not draw any distinction between the online and land-based marketing channels, the CJEU has clarified that an assessment of the scope of the restriction on the freedom to provide services should be made from the point of view of restrictions placed on the entire sector concerned (Case Zeturf).

Source: europa.eu

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