Maltese Remote Gaming Industry Threatened

Published Monday, March 30, 2009 -

The Malta Remote Gaming Council is up in arms over a recent vote on online gambling regulations in the European Union.
A non-binding vote in the EU Parliament approved the concept that the regulation of online gambling in Europe should be left to the individual member nations instead of a universal European set of rules. The vote effectively suggests that for Internet gambling, the broad EU principle of free movement of goods and services between member nations should not apply.

An alternative report prepared by British MEP Malcolm Harbour was defeated, and it is the Malta MEPs treatment of this report that has the MRGC upset.

Harbour's report coincides with the Malta government's official line on Internet gambling, contending that it is simply another form of EU economy and should therefore be subject to the principle of free movement of goods and services between member nations, which is how the European Commission works for now.

"Malta prefers the present internal market rules to regulate the gaming industry over national regulation as some member states have, in the past, tried to stifle competition through their laws," the 'Times of Malta' states. The newspaper reports that the EU debate had the potential to impact the 4 000 Maltese residents working in the online gambling industry on the Mediterranean island, and therefore its representatives at the vote should have been paying close attention to the issue. Four of the five MEPs did not even sign too initially support Harbour's alternative report and two of them did not even attend the session when the crucial vote was taken.

Malta Nationalist MEP Simon Busuttil was the sole Malta MEP who followed the events with interest and made sure he supported every move.

"Malta is always trying to attract investment and needs to do all in its power to protect the remote gaming industry, which accounts for six per cent of GDP." Alan Alden, general secretary of the MRGC, told reporters. Adding later, "We just cannot understand how only three of the five Maltese MEPs voted for the alternate resolution submitted. Furthermore, we noted that only Simon Busuttil actually endorsed the alternate resolution initially,"

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