Members of the European Parliament Debate Issues

Published Monday, March 09, 2009 -

In Europe over 3 million people bet online on football, cricket and horse racing. Next week Members of the European Parliament will decide whether online sports betting should be regulated at a European or national level. A report by the Parliament's Internal Market Committee calls for national governments to regulate it. Some members of the Committee disagree and want European rules. It will be debated in Strasbourg with no certainty of the outcome. The report on the "integrity of online gambling", has generated much controversy thus far. Over 400 amendments have been called for in the report.

Danish Socialist Christel Schaldemose tabled the final issue adopted by the Internal Market Committee which calls for governments to find common ground on things like gambling addiction, personal data or credit security, age requirements,and illegal online actions and game fixing. Measures to protect serious gambling problems and youth participation are also to be addressed.

Committee Chair Arlene McCarthy said, "match fixing is as old as sporting matches, but new technology opens up new risks for fraud alongside the positive opportunities it presents. Sport fans expect to see honest games, and I support tough action against all forms of match fixing and sport betting fraud."

Ms. McCarthy also warned national governments against "hypocritical" national rules that would protect state-owned betting companies.

The report passed in a 32 to 10 vote by Members of the European Parliament in Committee. Still a minority of members
think it should be regulated in line with other activities in the EU's internal market. The minority members also believe some ongoing Court of Justice cases related to the issue should first be clarified. Others think that gambling addiction is unproven and should not be an issue.

Stories from South African cricketer Hans Cronje and Liverpool goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar provide a cautionary tale about how betting syndicates can influence players to throw or influence matches.

A public hearing by the Committee has looked at the new challenges that online gambling represents on the Internet with attention being payed to game fixing and illegal sports betting activities. The debate will surely bring to an end some of the uncertainty surrounding Europe's online gambling industry.

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