At the current time, less than 15% of the almost 15,000 online gambling sites across Europe are fully licensed. This figure, according to EU officials, is far too low, and some EU officials have created the “green paper” to change this situation.
The Green Paper
Issued just last week, the Green Paper has 51 questions about online gambling and the online gaming market. It is intended as a first step to re-open the very touchy and heated debate about online gaming and about how to handle cross-border activities.
Creating Gambling Regulations
Top EU officials point out that the Green Paper is just a first step, and that they are open to suggestions about how to create gambling regulations and about how to make those regulations work. As Michel Barnier, the EU internal market commissioner said, “We have launched an ambitious consultation with no predetermined views on its possible follow-up … This consultation is not about liberalisation of the market. It is about ensuring that the market for online gambling within the EU is well-regulated for all.”
Green Paper Taking the Heat
Not surprisingly, the Green Paper has already been generating heat from gaming companies and some EU lawmakers. The European Gaming and Betting Association has said that, while they appreciate the factual nature of the survey, they are worried by “the apparent lack of commitment to curb further fragmentation of the common market.”
Malcolm Harbour, a British MEP who is also the chair of the European Parliament’s internal market committee, also has concerns about the Green Paper. He said that online gambling has to be viewed as a cross-border issue and that it needs clear guidance within the EU framework.
Time will tell if the Commission is able to use the Green Paper to move forward with clear internal market rules for the EU and to create a consistency test that could be used by all EU states.