EU Must Act Over ‘Protectionist’ Rule Following Detention of Bwin.Party Founder

Written by:
Aaron Goldstein
Published on:
EU Must Act Over ‘Protectionist’ Rule Following Detention of Bwin.Party Founder

The Financial Time’s Jonathan Guthrie blasted the European Union for its failure to act appropriately in light of member nations chokehold over online gambling firms.

The reaction comes following the detention by Belgium authorities of founder Norbert Teufelberger immediately following his keynote address at an industry conference in Brussels.   Belgium is one of a handful of EU countries that has imposed stringent prohibitions on Internet wagering sites not licensed in the country and, as such, quashing potential competition.  Belgium has gone as far as to incorporate a “black list” of such sites.  There is a sad irony in all of this being that Brussels is home to the European Union. 

Teufelberger, like many of his colleagues, want a single market in gambling in the EU.

Guthrie writes

Belgium’s protectionist model is one that other member states may copy if it persists unchallenged.

Such moves are wrong and should be rolled back. Regulated gambling is a legal business in the EU. The EC has a duty to enforce a single market on member states. The moral objections of some national politicians are irrelevant. Ditto the desire of others to protect state-owned operators, including lotteries, from online private sector competitors.

The EC has appeared quiescent, parking infringement cases for years on end. Last month it showed signs of waking up, proposing to reactivate nine cases against member states and to investigate 20 more. Good. Restricting the availability of regulated online wagering to EU citizens will only encourage the growth of unregulated alternatives. The genie of internet gambling is out of the bottle.

Guthrie notes that in Germany, Betfair has already shuttered its sports betting exchange in light of a 5 per cent stakes tax. 

- Aaron Goldstein,

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