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European Court of Justice backs online gambling guidelines

The European Court of Justice (CJEU) has rejected a case brought forward from the Belgium Government, to annul European Commission guidelines, relating to consumer protection from online gambling, to member states.

Arguing that by issuing the guidelines the Commission had gone beyond its treaty based competences, the CJEU found that they did not interfere with the right of member states to regulate online gambling services.

Published in 2014, the guidelines contain a number of  recommendations aimed at developing a high degree of consumer protection, in addition to preventing minors from online gambling.

In its defence, the Belgian government ascertained that through issuing the guidelines, member states sovereignty and competences to regulate national gambling markets were interfered with.

Welcoming the decision, the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) states that it supports the full implementation of the Commission’s guidelines.

Maarten Haijer, Secretary General of EGBA, said: “We welcome the decision by the Court and strongly support the Commission’s guidelines for online gambling services which aim to protect consumers and minors across all EU Member States.

“We now call upon the Commission to evaluate the implementation of its guidelines by Member States and identify any gaps and corrective action needed to encourage Member States to achieve a high level of consumer protection.”

Whilst not legally binding, the EGBA believes the guidelines to be an important tool to encourage an application of a high, and consistent, level of consumer protection for online gambling activity in the EU.

Adding in its statement: “The standards adequately compliment the European Committee for Standardisation’s (CEN) workshop agreement on Responsible Remote Gambling Measures, which EGBA members voluntarily adhere to and are regularly audited against.”

Through the judgement, which confirms  the General Court of 27 October 2015 to dismiss the case, it was detailed that further appeal against the decision will not be possible.

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