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Illegal Gambling

POSITION PAPER Illegal Gambling Services

Status: December 2016

Illegal gambling is when gambling services or products are offered in a jurisdiction where this activity is not licenced or generally allowed. The European Casino Association (ECA) herein provides key considerations for a more effective approach towards illegal gambling services. The ECA aims to encourage stronger enforcement through increased cooperation between countries and with the support of the EU institutions and relevant international organisations.

What problems are related to illegal gambling operations?

Gambling is a sensitive activity and is embedded in the social, economic and cultural environments specific to each Member State. National gambling regulations respect the different ethical, religious, cultural and historical backgrounds that exist across Europe. A gambling operator that provides cross-border services illegally does not respect these differences. An illegal gambling operator that is not subject to the rules and conditions, nor to the respective controls that have been created to protect the consumer and guarantee public order, as such allows irresponsible business interests to circumvent the public interest. The existence of illegal gambling services in European markets leads to concrete problems, namely

Use and effectiveness of enforcement measures against unlicensed gambling operators in Europe

One of the key aims of the European Casino Association (ECA) is to raise awareness of the growing issue of unlicensed provision of online gambling services and highlight the severity of this growing issue. While the Court of Justice of the European Union has repeatedly confirmed that Member States can set their own gambling policy within certain parameters, some online gambling providers are continuing to target countries in which they do not have a licence. It is estimated that up to 50 % of the total online gambling revenue is generated in countries where the respective operator does not hold the required licence.

Some countries have attempted to implement a regulatory framework to tackle this growing issue by establishing enforcement measures to reduce the availability of unlicensed gambling services. This includes the use of tools such as IP blocking and payment blocking, as well as other such enforcement measures. To provide input to ongoing discussions on the use and effectiveness of such enforcement measures, a survey of ECA members was conducted in September 2017 to collect concrete information on the different enforcement measures and their effectiveness. A total of 22 ECA members (both EU and non-EU) contributed to the survey, which cover the main European jurisdictions across Europe. The results of this survey are compiled in this report.