The European Commission refused to reinstate a decommissioned cross member state expert group despite national regulators’ call.
KSA-Led Initiative Unsuccessful
The European Commission’s refusal to reinstate the Expert Group on Gambling Services was revealed after Dutch gambling regulator Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) released the Commission’s response to a request sent by KSA Chairman Rene Jansen on behalf of national regulators in 14 member states.
In May, the KSA Chairman sent a letter to Commissioner Thierry Breton “to request the reinstatement of the Expert Group on Gambling Services” due to the need for cross-border cooperation for national regulators.
In the letter, KSA Chairman Jansen outlined the challenges national regulators face with cross-border gambling issues and the need for information sharing while recognizing the value the Expert Group on Gambling Services had as a platform for cooperation and exchange of best practices at the EU level.
Further, the cross-border member group helped establish an atmosphere of trust and by allowing mutually beneficial exchanges of experiences, proved to be beneficial in an area of overarching public policy such as consumer protection, Rene Jansen noted in the letter.
The Expert Group on Gambling Services also helped national regulators stay informed of any developments related to relevant EU secondary legislation like the revision of the Anti-Money Laundering Directive.
It also provided context for the Commission to mandate a number of valuable studies, “including on technical requirements and an evaluation of regulatory tools for enforcing online gambling rules”, and was particularly successful.
The need for the Expert Group on Gambling to be reinstated is also justified by a number of legislation initiatives currently under consideration by the Commission with direct impact on the provision of online gambling services, including the 5th AML Directive, e-ID, Digital Services Act, Digital Tax, and the regulation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology, the letter concluded.
The Group Has Run Its Course
The cross member collaborative group was decommissioned in 2018, following a decision in December 2017 not to renew the group’s mandate, in line with a reduction of the Commission’s activities in the area of gambling.
The European Commission decided to let the Expert Group on Gambling Services run its course, following more than 30 cases spanning over a period of 20 years in which the European Court of Justice clarified the scope for national regulation in gambling and approved a wide margin of restrictions available on a national level due to consumer protection considerations.
The response sent from the Directorate General (DG) of Commissioner Breton stated that the Commission was no longer actively following gambling-related developments, the 2017 decision will not be reversed and the mandate of the expert group under the DG’s responsibility will not be renewed.