1st LD Writethru: EC adopts recommendation on online gambling services

BRUSSELS, July 14 (Xinhua) -- The European Commission (EC) on Monday adopted a Recommendation on online gambling services, with an aim to ensure effective protection of consumers from the risks associated with excessive gambling, the European Union (EU) statement said.

It encourages Member States to pursue a high level of protection for consumers, players and minors through the adoption of principles for online gambling services and for responsible advertising and sponsorship of those services.

Michel Barnier, Vice-President of the EC, responsible for Internal Market and Services, said "We must better protect all citizens, and in particular our children, from the risks associated with gambling."

With close to 7million EU consumers participating in online gambling services, the EU online gambling market represents 45 percent of the world market share, according to the statement.

The Recommendation sets out a number of principles that Member States are invited to take up in their gambling regulations, including the basic information requirements for gambling websites, the rules in place to minimize the minors' contact with gambling, a registration process to open a player account so that consumers have to provide details of age and identity for verification by the operators.

EU Member States are also invited to carry out awareness-raising campaigns about gambling and related risks, as well as to collect data about the opening and closing of player accounts and breaches of commercial communication rules.

The Recommendation was announced in the Commission's action plan "Towards a comprehensive European framework for online gambling" adopted on 23 October 2012.

The fast-paced progress of online technology, with the development of mobile phones and smart phones, tablets and digital TV, goes hand-in-hand with an increase in the offer and use of online gambling services in Europe, the statement said.

However, there are a number of risks associated with gambling. It is estimated that between 0.1 to 0.8 percent of the general adult population suffers a gambling disorder. Children and adolescents are also increasingly at risk.

The Recommendation invites Member States to inform the Commission about the measures taken in light of the Recommendation 18 months after its publication in the Official Journal of the EU. The Commission will evaluate the measures taken by Member States 30 months after publication.