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UK Minister Urges EU To Back Gambling Laws

Friday, 21st October 2011

In Europe overnight, UK Gambling Minister John Penrose “called on the European Union to stand by its report on a EC green paper & allow member states the right to regulate online gambling at a national level, while permitting cross-border access to providers based anywhere in Europe” reported racingpost.com. Penrose told members of the EU parliament: “In Britain we want an open & free gambling market, but also to protect British consumers within it. But, crucially, I don’t expect every other member state to have to regulate their markets in the same way.” Penrose noted: “There is scope for practical co-operation to take place Europe-wide, whilst ensuring that we avoid unnecessary bureaucracy, duplication & a tick-box approach to regulation.” Penrose stressed the need for national legislation on online gambling & said: “Different cultural attitudes & norms vary enormously across Europe. In the UK we have light-touch regulation & an open market, much like Denmark will have once its new legislation comes in. But (countries) such as Poland & Portugal have more conservative views on gambling & thus their legislation is more restrictive. These differences have deep roots. They spring from fundamentally different religious traditions, cultural attitudes, legislative styles & approaches to managing the always-fuzzy dividing line between things which are harmless & enjoyable for the majority of the population, but potentially seriously harmful for a small minority nonetheless. It would be wrong, therefore, for my country to impose its regulatory system on, for example, Bulgaria, and vice versa.” Penrose (whose department is in the process of formulating legislation based on consumer protection to licence offshore operators through the Gambling Commission) went on to argue that regulatory changes “must not be used as a thinly-veiled attempt to protect state monopolies.” He said: “Once the local regulatory environment has been set up, mechanisms should be in place to allow providers based anywhere in Europe to have access to each member state’s gambling market. Otherwise we will have entire countries full of consumers who may be protected from the risks of problem gambling, but are also being ripped off by high-cost & inefficient monopolists as well.”

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