A recently published report put out by the Spanish EU Presidency calls for the EU to solidify its stance on internet gambling. The report attempts to define “illegal gambling”, both within the framework of internet gambling in Spain as well as across other EU member states. The report is seen by some as the first step towards a unified legal framework for internet gambling in Europe.
The report, as stated in its introduction, focuses on “matters of common interest to the Member States in relation to the gambling sector, concentrating the debates on possible coordinated actions against illegal gambling in the Member States.” It then goes on to provide a definition of “illegal gambling”, suggesting a rule that would not only allow internet gambling to comply with EU treaty principles, but also one which would respect the national gambling laws of the country where the services are being offered.
The report also discusses measures that may be (and often are) taken by EU countries against illegal online gambling operations, including blocking financial sites and preventing players from accessing unauthorized gambling websites. The report urges EU Member States to consider the usefulness of a unified stance on internet gambling, and encourages the exchange of information regarding white listed operators (and presumably rogue operators as well).
The report has already been met with some opposition. Both the UK and Malta, which have their own strict regulations regarding internet gambling, believe that EU freedom of service rules should take precedence. The UK in particular has been fighting for the right to offer online gambling services across international borders, and has not always been met with open arms.
Despite this call for action, Spanish gambling laws are not very well suited to deal with internet gambling. While the country has a solid definition of illegal gambling, there are no sanctions for illegal gambling operators, and the country does not blog websites of internet gambling services they deem to be illegal.