European Commission lags the field with gambling document

Odds are long on Commission making moves on gambling

Yesterday’s document was the result of two year’s work, but that still means the commission only got to the starting line more than a decade after the race was off.

Yesterday’s document was the result of two year’s work, but that still means the commission only got to the starting line more than a decade after the race was off.

Tue, Jul 15, 2014, 01:40

Cantillon presumes that the serious people responsible for running the European Commission would never engage in anything so frivolous as gambling. However, they are concerned about the fact that technology is making online betting increasingly accessible to the rest of us.

So concerned, in fact, that the commission has published a series of recommendations that it wants Member States to take on board when it comes to drawing up their own regimes for regulating online gambling.

Brussels is rarely first out of the traps with anything, but this time, it has missed the break so badly that it is far behind the rest of the field. Online gambling has been growing strongly for close to a decade and-a-half. Betfair, a business founded solely because of the revolutionary impact that its backers thought the internet could have on sports betting, is 13 years old.

Yesterday’s document was the result of two year’s work, but that still means the commission only got to the starting line more than a decade after the race was off.

It concerns itself primarily with minors, safeguards for problem gamblers and advertising standards. These are valid areas for concern. It is fair that gambling should be limited, by and large, to adults and, while the estimate that around 1 per cent of regular punters has a problem seems low, it is high when you consider that betting sites measure their membership in the hundreds of thousands.

However, there is little proposed in the way of general consumer protection or safeguards for clients’ money. Nor is there substantial effort to ensure that real information, such as how bookmakers and casinos structure their odds to ensure that they ultimately cannot be beaten, is transmitted to clients.

The proposals around advertising offer some hope, but given the speed at which the commission operates, the odds on it doing anything on this soon must be pretty long.