Regulation of the online sector

The online sector is growing at a considerable pace. According to the European Commission, online gaming is growing at an annual rate of 15%, nearly double the land-based sector. Roughly 6.8 million consumers access these channels across Europe. The European Commission also points out that out of 14,823 active gaming sites in Europe more than 85% operate without any license[1].

The growth of gaming through online channels – internet, mobile, social media and digital television- is a significant regulatory challenge for Member States, but must be regulated nonetheless. While Europe wide statistics on the impact of significant online growth are unavailable, the available data in Member States is of concern to any responsible operator. For example in Austria, while the growth rate of so-called pathological gamblers has increased by only 2 per cent between 2008 and 2013 in the gaming machine sector, the online sector has seen an increase of 118 per cent over the same period[2].

In seeking to address these problems, regulators must:

  • Avoid applying online solutions to offline businesses:

The growth of the online sector and the risk this poses to consumers is creating momentum behind player-centred approaches to reducing harm. Given the technological sophistication of these prevention measures, they must be applied in a risk-based way. Low-risk gaming machine operators should not be forced to adopt expensive technology without significant evidence that it is required.

Work with the industry to improve understanding of the risks of online gaming to ensure that any policy decisions are evidence based:

EUROMAT and its members will continue to work with regulators and academics to build an improved body of knowledge to address the growth of online gaming and any harm associated with it.

[1] Green Paper on on-line gambling in the Internal Market, European Commission, 2011.

[2] Figures taken from Spielsuchthilfe Wien and the Amtliche Wiener Zeitung