Money laundering changes disappoint RGA

The Remote Gambling Association (RGA) has expressed disappointment at the new amendments to the European Commission’s proposal for a new Anti-Money Laundering Directive (AMLD), which has singled out online gambling as an area for high regulation.

The amendments adopted by the European Parliament today would require online gambling operators to conduct due diligence as of the establishment of the business relationship with their customers. The RGA argues that this requirement conflicts with the spirit of the Commission’s proposal and the previous Directives and that in practice it could well mean that the online gambling industry will be compelled to conduct due diligence on every one of its customers.

Clive Hawkswood, the RGA’s Chief Executive, said: “It is very difficult to see how an objective review of the facts, including the success of the Third AMLD in combatting money laundering, could have led Parliament to this conclusion. The licensed online gambling sector has highly developed tools for identifying possible threats and has an excellent record in preventing money laundering. As an industry we are never complacent, but quite simply there is no justification for singling out our sector for this kind of treatment.”

The EU Council may yet  reject the positions of the European Parliament on a number of critical issues, including some of the gambling provisions. Therefore, a second reading and further negotiations on the AMLD are expected to take place after the European elections.

Hawkswood added: “We have consistently supported a risk-based approach, which we consider to be the most suitable manner to tackle any problems and, of course, individual Member States can introduce additional measures if there are specific issues within their jurisdictions. We hope now that the EU Council will reject the Parliament’s position on this issue and that the European Commission will defend its original stance.”

However the stance of the European Gaming & Betting Association (EGBA) was far more welcoming to the changes. Secretary General Maarten Haijer commented: “The EGBA would like to congratulate the European Parliament for its vote on these revised rules. It confirms that online gambling is an inherent cross-border service which, in line with the subsidiarity principle, is better governed by one set of rules at EU level, rather than by 28 different national laws. These rules will further add to the existing body of Internal Market legislation applicable to the gambling sector.”

The text as voted by the Parliament also states that Member States may be exceptionally entitled to exempt certain forms of gambling following approval by the European Commission. Maarten Haijer adds: “If exemptions are to be granted, they will need to be risk-based and supported by clear evidence. The lack of cash money and the transparency and traceability of online gambling transactions in a regulated environment are great assets to mitigate potential risks of money laundering.”

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