By Christel Schaldemose - 9th November 2012
Unfortunately, cheating is not an unknown phenomenon in sports
The commission is on the right path towards ensuring that online gambling is well regulated and keeps EU citizens safe, writes Christel Schaldemose.
Surprisingly enough, I was very content when I first saw the commission communication on online gambling. It is satisfying to see that the commission has actually listened to the recommendations and concerns which we have here in the European parliament and in the S&D group in particular.
With this communication, the commission fulfils my wish concerning the question of introducing EU legislation. For a long time I have been arguing that we do not need online gambling community legislation. With this, the principle of subsidiarity is intact. Even though online games have no borders, the cultural differences between the member states are huge when it comes to tackling the gambling sector. It would be impossible to harmonise the area in a hurry.
Instead of legislation, the commission proclaims that it will come up with some initiatives aimed at increasing the protection of consumers. That is a good thing. In my opinion, a step-by-step approach is the right path to follow. Thank you for listening, internal market and consumer protection commissioner Michel Barnier.
However, this step-by-step approach does not mean that we should sit still and allow the online gambling companies to do whatever they want. Of that precise reason, I appreciate the intentions of the commission to work for a closer cooperation between national gambling authorities. I also support the idea of strengthening the protection of minors, making tighter rules on advertising, and securing better treatment of gambling addiction. All of this is necessary.
I am also very pleased that the commission will take a closer look at the growing problem of match-fixing. Unfortunately, cheating is not an unknown phenomenon in sports. That is a very bad trend. Our children and young people look up to and rely on their sporting heroes, and the consumers who gamble on sports results must be assured that they have a fair chance of winning. The integrity of sports is crucial. Whether we speak of match-fixing, money laundering or doping, we will have to act upon it. For that reason, I support the commission’s clear approach. I know that the Council of Europe has already done a great job in this regard and I think that we should be inspired by their good efforts.
I am looking forward to having a continued dialogue with the commission in the field of online gambling. It is for the benefits of the citizens and the civil society in the EU.
Christel Schaldemose is a member of parliament's internal market and consumer protection committee