In his first address as Chair of The European Forum for Gambling Regulators (GREF), René Jansen has called for the European Commission (EC) to re-establish an ‘EU expert group’ on gambling laws and standards.
Jansen, the chairman of Dutch regulatory agency Kansspelautoriteit (KSA), made his address while participating in a webinar hosted by the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA).
“I recently sent a letter on behalf of a group of regulators to the European Commissioner for the Internal Market in order to breathe new life into the EC Expert Group on Online Gambling,” Jansen disclosed.
Jansen stated that whilst the EU had chosen to maintain gambling laws as a national policy remit, all European regulators shared aligned goals “in wanting to protect consumers, prevent gambling addiction and tackle illegal practices”.
In the fight to preserve each individual market’s integrity against black-market threats, Jansen added that the re-establishment of an EU-level expert group was imperative as a means to create a vital information exchange between regulatory agencies.
“The different sets of laws in each country means that efficient and effective information exchange is vital,” he said. “We must also show illegal gambling operators that decisive cross-border action is being taken against them.”
The Dutch executive reflected on the past achievements of the EU Expert Group, in which collaboration between regulatory agencies had led to the development of new joint initiatives such as European Commission’s 2014 Recommendation on consumer protection in online gambling.
The group consisted of representatives from the EU’s gambling authorities but was disbanded by the Commission in 2018 despite most gambling regulators considering it a success.
Jansen’s call to re-establish a regulatory collaborative group was immediately backed by EGBA leadership as a vital component to protect a European gambling sector valued at €100 billion per year.
“There is currently no EU framework for gambling regulators to even communicate, let alone to jointly tackle the big issues affecting Europe’s online gambling sector,” commented Maarten Haijer, Secretary-General, EGBA.
“Most of these issues are cross-border in nature and require common solutions. We therefore welcome the strong commitment to regulatory cooperation and call to action from the majority of Europe’s gambling regulators.
“The message to the European Commission is clear: both gambling regulators and the sector itself are united in support of the Expert Group and call upon the Commission to reinstate the Expert Group.”