Dr Margaret Carran reviewed the extent to which countries have implemented European Commission guidelines.

Published (Updated )

A new study by Dr Margaret Carran from The City Law School has found that protections for consumers engaging in online gambling still vary significantly between countries.

The review 'Consumer protection in EU online gambling regulation' examined the national implementation of selected key provisions of the European Commission Recommendation for consumer protection in online gambling.

The Commission Recommendation 2014/478/EU aimed to encourage a uniform high-level of protection for online gamblers across EU member states, through the voluntary introduction of common principles addressing player identification requirements, the prevention of minors from gambling and social responsibility measures.

Dr Carran found that although the EU recommendations have contributed to better consumer protection in several EU jurisdictions, they have failed to ensure consistency across all Member States and it has not lead to regulatory convergence.

Many countries have requirements that are stricter than those set out in the Recommendation and there are still jurisdictions that do not have specific regulation for online gambling and common agreement is unlikely to happen voluntarily due to national disagreements about what measures are sufficient and appropriate. .

In 2015, online gambling accounted for 15% of the overall total gambling market share in Europe and this is forecast to increase to 18% by 2020.

Globally, the European online gambling market accounts for nearly half (47.6%) of total gambling revenues, making the European market the largest in the world.

Dr Margaret Carran recommends that the EU Commission should re-evaluate its decision to de-prioritise gambling related matters.

"The Commission should recognise that there is more willingness towards and greater appetite among Member States for deeper administrative cooperation than was the case in 2014. As such there may be more support for a direct, mandatory harmonisation measures in the context of gambling that would more effectively achieve the objectives that were intended to be secured though the Recommendation."

Key findings

Players’ identification and verification requirements

  • 25 countries legally require online players to open an online gambling account in order to play.
  • 22 countries require players’ identities to be verified upon application to open a gambling account.

Minors’ protection

  • All countries impose a minimum age requirement for gambling, with 22 countries setting a uniform age restriction at 18 years of age for all types of online gambling.
  • 13 countries require ‘no underage gambling’ sign to be displayed on or during commercial advertisements

Social responsibilities’ measures

  • 23 countries oblige operators to offer self-exclusion facilities for online players.
  • 14 countries have established national self-exclusion registers.
  • No country initiates automatic referral to health group organisation or treatment centres upon self-exclusion.

The study was commissioned by the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA).

Full information about the study and its findings can be found here.