MEPs miss opportunity to create a single market in online gambling - Ashley Fox - La Treizième Étoile: A blog on EU politics
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MEPs miss opportunity to create a single market in online gambling - Ashley Fox

Sunday, 20 November 2011
Protectionism has won over common sense” – those are the powerful words of South West England and Gibraltar Conservative MEP Ashley Fox in response to the European Parliament’s adoption this week of a resolution on online gambling.

Responding to a Commission Green Paper on online gambling, MEPs have made proposals that would continue the "current problematic patchwork of national legislation" - albeit with greater cooperation between national administrations regarding issues such as black listing, advertising, and the integrity of sport.

For him, the resolution as adopted by show of hands on Tuesday, “protects vested interests such as state monopolies rather than promote a single market in online gambling” and this is “a missed opportunity to create an environment where safe and responsible online gambling can thrive”.

Mr Fox, a shadow lead member on the report, argued that there needs to be a common EU framework that would bring an end to the ongoing uncertainty and countless (often contradictory) court cases and infringement proceedings that are currently preventing online gambling from fulfilling its potential to increase economic activity across the Single Market.

Gibraltar is home to a large number of online gambling businesses principally because of the low taxes previously levied by the Gibraltar government.

"Online gambling is a cross-border activity and we need clear rules in the Single Market governing it. Burying our heads in the sand and protecting the status quo will only continue the current trend of confusing and contradictory court cases and the proliferation of the black market which only harms our consumers,” he said.

"Online gambling is a reality that will not stop at national boundaries. National protectionism against online gambling will only help black market businesses and harm legal European gambling enterprises that want to promote safe and responsible online gaming.

"Online gambling is already big business in Europe, with a volume in excess of €10 billion. MEPs have failed to spot the benefits and opportunities that a more open marketplace for gambling would have for economic growth. Protectionism has won over common sense."

(From press release)

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