The current phase of regulation of the gambling market in EU jurisdictions is now nearly over. Following the Spanish Gambling Regulation Act reaching the statute book, there is only one big jurisdiction left which has not yet regulated its gambling industry according to the EU legislation and European Commission (EC) directives – Germany. Other jurisdictions, such as Greece and Denmark, have yet to complete their travel to regulation
It is no secret that many countries were pushed into changing their laws by court cases brought by commercial operators and infringements It is not too much of an exaggeration to say that some governments have been dragged and screaming to allow private operators in the national gambling market. Many countries did not pay enough to stop the EU infringement proceedings and the designated regulatory frameworks that favored, if not outright protected, their state-owned gambling monopolies. Additionally, just to make sure that commercial operators are not too successful, these same governments also imposed a high tax rate. France is a classic case study and a specific extent. Spain and Greece are following French footsteps. Germany can not take it too far Best10Gambling.
Within this mix, the regulators were given a wide remit to keep a check on commercial operators. ARJEL in France is fairly aggressive in making sure that commercial operators do not infringe the regulations, and even more aggressive with those who do not receive a French license but who continue to operate in France
The role of regulators has not been sufficiently analysed Are they independent entities who regulate the market, similar to a Financial Services Authority or a financial sector for the Central Bank? Are the regulators in the gambling industry solely a arm of the country’s executive?
So far, the pattern of behavior of gambling regulators leads observers to think that they are more like the arm of governments than independent referees.
Where state-owned gambling operators have a large market share and are protected by law from competition in certain sectors like lotteries, the behavior of regulators tends to be important, not only as a matter of fairness, but from the point of view of enabling a true competitive market There is something wrong when the state controls the biggest firm or companies in the market and at the same time rules through the regulator.
France is the case in point. The state controlled PMU and FDJ’s dominant position in land-based gambling activities (where they are protected by law) allowed them to gain a competitive advantage in online activities, even the law states that their land-based and online businesses separate from them. It took the European Gaming and Betting Association’s complaint to the French Competition Authority (FCA), and the subsequent non-binding opinion of the FCA stating that the PMU and FDJ behavior distorts the market to raise the issue. This is a classic case where the regulator should have intervened One of ARJEL’s declared missions, after all, is to ensure compliance by operators.
One has had wonders if the reluctance, or frustration, of certain government’s in the commercial gambling operators to trade is being reproduced in the actions of regulatory bodies.
It is in the interest of a properly functioning market that the regulatory bodies are independent, and seen to be independent. Additionally, the regulatory bodies need to acquire high caliber professionals with the expertise of the gambling industry and the required skill sets to allow their supervisory role for the industry trends in a efficient manner.