European Commission recommendations on online gambling problemsThis week the European Commission is to adopt recommendations to encourage European Union member states to protect those engaging in online gambling and to ensure that advertising by online gambling operators is responsible. The recommendations are the outcome of a Europe wide consultation that has been ongoing for four years and that was published in the 2012 communication : “Towards a Comprehensive European Framework for Online Gambling”. Its aim is to provide the European Union member states with guidance regarding the protection of their citizens, in particular young people, from problem gambling; to ensure that online casino operators will have shared guidelines for responsible online gambling advertising; to make sure that legal online gambling websites offer players sufficient protection in the areas of under age gambling, identity and personal detail safeguards and also that operators would put in place measures to help players avoid compulsive gambling or related problems.

A Gambling “health warning”?

For many years cigarette packets have carried warnings that their use may damage the user’s health. The use of such warnings on online gambling websites is one of the recommendations that the European Commission will encourage the different countries to add to their online gambling regulations. There are already some, like France, where online gaming sites and advertisements already have such a warning and also provide a helpline phone number. The Commission would like to see Europe wide protection in online casinos with controls for age and identity and also encouraging self exclusion and providing helpline contacts. The Commission’s recommendations are not legally enforceable but it is hoped that the different countries will increase their vigilance in the area of protecting players and in particular minors and vulnerable people from gambling addiction.

European online gambling growing

The European Union countries provide almost 45 per cent of the world’s online gambling market and advertising plays a large part in the growth of the industry where it is claimed that over 12 percent of this gambling is carried out in online casinos. Income from online casinos in the European Union is expected to reach 13 billion euros by next year. The European Commission says that member states have been seeking a set of common guidelines for protection of users of online gambling sites and it is believed that these recommendations will provide this to vulnerable individuals.