Brussels, 14 July 2014
Online gambling: Commission recommends principles to ensure effective protection of consumers
The European Commission has today adopted a Recommendation on online gambling services. It encourages Member States to pursue a high level of protection for consumers, players and minors through the adoption of principles for online gambling services and for responsible advertising and sponsorship of those services. The aims of the principles are to safeguard health and to minimise the eventual economic harm that may result from compulsive or excessive gambling.
"Today's Recommendation delivers one of the core elements of the Commission's 2012 action plan on online gambling services” said Vice-President Michel Barnier, responsible for Internal Market and Services. "We must better protect all citizens, and in particular our children, from the risks associated with gambling. We now look to the Member States, but also to online gambling operators, to match our ambition for a high level of consumer protection throughout the EU in this fast growing digital sector."
The Commission’s Recommendation sets out a number of principles that Member States are invited to take up in their gambling regulations:
Member States are also invited to carry out awareness-raising campaigns about gambling and related risks, as well as to collect data about the opening and closing of player accounts and breaches of commercial communication rules. Member States should also designate competent regulatory authorities to help ensure, in an independent manner, effective monitoring of compliance with the Recommendation.
The fast-paced progress of online technology, with the development of mobile phones and smart phones, tablets and digital TV, goes hand-in-hand with an increase in the offer and use of online gambling services in Europe. With close to 7 million EU consumers participating in online gambling services, the EU online gambling market represents 45% of the world market share.
For the majority of people in the EU who take part in online gambling, it is a recreational activity. However, there are a number of risks associated with gambling. It is estimated that between 0.1-0.8% of the general adult population suffers a gambling disorder and an additional 0.1-2.2% demonstrate potentially problematic gambling involvement. Gambling becomes a problem when it ceases to be purely enjoyable and turns into dependence. Children and adolescents are also increasingly at risk, due to the fact that they use the internet more and more for information or entertainment, and can easily come into contact with gambling advertising and gambling websites. Therefore, preventive measures are necessary to minimise potential harm and to guarantee that online gambling services are offered and promoted in a responsible manner.
In addition, several Member States are currently reviewing their legal frameworks in this area and should be able to use the Recommendation as guidance.
Next steps: The Recommendation invites Member States to inform the Commission about the measures taken in light of the Recommendation 18 months after its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union. The Commission will evaluate the measures taken by Member States 30 months after publication.
The Recommendation is accompanied by an impact assessment and a behavioural study on online gambling and adequate measures for the protection of consumers. These are available on the Commission's website:
See also MEMO/14/484