Online gambling: will EU gambling authorities’ cooperation agreement lead to reduced costs for operators?

On 27 November, as part of the European Commission’s 2012 action plan, “Towards a comprehensive European framework for online gambling“, a voluntary cooperation agreement on online gambling was signed by the gambling regulatory authorities of EEA member states. The Commission noted that the agreement was the first of its kind in the world.

The areas of cooperation covered by the agreement include the organisation of gambling – for example, regulatory requirements and tender processes – and supervision and compliance, including the prevention of money laundering, fraud and match-fixing. Education and research are other areas of cooperation.

The European Gaming & Betting Association, among others, has welcomed the agreement, saying that the information exchanged under the agreement can cover a wide range of issues that will “allow member states to better and more efficiently achieve their public policy objectives and reduce unnecessary administrative burden for EU established and regulated operators.”

Online operators in the EU have to deal with an ever-evolving set of regulations across multiple territories. For example, as we have mentioned in previous blogs, the fourth money laundering directive may mean an increased burden for online operators, who will become subject to the directive’s requirements unless an exemption is made available by the relevant member states. In this environment, operators are likely to be supportive of any measures that lead to a streamlining of national regulation between member states and therefore reduce operators’ costs. The cooperation agreement is certainly a step in the right direction, but whether it goes far enough remains to be seen.