Panel Title

Session 1-4-F: The Gaming Industry in Europe

Location

The Mirage Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada

Start Date

7-6-2016 4:00 PM

End Date

7-6-2016 5:30 PM

Abstract

For nearly two decades battles have been fought regarding gambling using the free movement principles which underpin the European Union’s Internal Market; many legal cases have been concerned with the cross-border provision of online gambling services whilst others have concentrated upon issues surrounding market access at the national level.

In contrast to other economic activities the European Commission has not proposed European legislative measures to harmonise aspects of the regulation of (online) gambling at the European level. Instead a ‘soft law’ approach has been undertaken through the use of non-binding methods. Nevertheless aspects of gambling regulation are addressed in European legislation which has its primary focus in other areas, such as the prevention of money laundering.

The Netherlands is currently a hotbed of plans to modernise, i.e. reform, three different parts of the national gambling regulatory landscape. Each raises unique issues of its own, but no single part can be untangled from the other two. These are as follows:

1.The state monopoly on land-based casinos is to be dissolved and the incumbent operator privatised; what will the opportunities be for new entrants? What will the privatisation process entail? What legacy issues will new licence holders have to shoulder?

2. The licensing award process for certain lottery licences is to be reformed to bring it into compliance with EU law. How do current licence holders and the beneficiaries of the revenues they generate view such proposed changes?

3. A licensing regime is to be introduced for online gambling; will differential tax rates between online and land-based operations be introduced? How will operators who are already active on the national market, some on the basis of a licence issued by another EU Member State, be dealt with when licensing commences?

Although the (legislative) proposals are all at differing stages of maturity the (nationwide) state lottery and the exclusive provider of land-based sports-betting and lotto games have sought approval from the national competition authority to merge. This adds an additional dynamic to the debate.

This paper will consider how EU law has been a driver for regulatory reform in the Netherlands and, once the processes began to move, how EU law has been and is taken into consideration by different stakeholders in discourse and debate. Such stakeholders include the government, the gambling regulator, politicians, licence holders and new market entrants.

Whilst the modernisation process will not be completed by June 2016, the current reform processes will provide an interesting case-study on how EU law influences national discourse on the regulation of gaming. A case-study made more interesting by the fact that three aspects of the overall national regulatory regime are subject to reform around the same time.

Keywords

Internet gambling regulation; casino regulation; lottery regulation; EU law; law

Disciplines

Antitrust and Trade Regulation | Consumer Protection Law | European Law | Gaming Law | International Trade Law | Internet Law

Comments

Audio recording of this presentation is attached as a downloadable MP3 audio file, 66.7 MB

This presentation begins at 29:42

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Jun 7th, 4:00 PM Jun 7th, 5:30 PM

Casinos, Lotteries and Online: The Netherlands at the Confluence of Various Streams of Reform. What is the Influence of EU Law?

The Mirage Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada

For nearly two decades battles have been fought regarding gambling using the free movement principles which underpin the European Union’s Internal Market; many legal cases have been concerned with the cross-border provision of online gambling services whilst others have concentrated upon issues surrounding market access at the national level.

In contrast to other economic activities the European Commission has not proposed European legislative measures to harmonise aspects of the regulation of (online) gambling at the European level. Instead a ‘soft law’ approach has been undertaken through the use of non-binding methods. Nevertheless aspects of gambling regulation are addressed in European legislation which has its primary focus in other areas, such as the prevention of money laundering.

The Netherlands is currently a hotbed of plans to modernise, i.e. reform, three different parts of the national gambling regulatory landscape. Each raises unique issues of its own, but no single part can be untangled from the other two. These are as follows:

1.The state monopoly on land-based casinos is to be dissolved and the incumbent operator privatised; what will the opportunities be for new entrants? What will the privatisation process entail? What legacy issues will new licence holders have to shoulder?

2. The licensing award process for certain lottery licences is to be reformed to bring it into compliance with EU law. How do current licence holders and the beneficiaries of the revenues they generate view such proposed changes?

3. A licensing regime is to be introduced for online gambling; will differential tax rates between online and land-based operations be introduced? How will operators who are already active on the national market, some on the basis of a licence issued by another EU Member State, be dealt with when licensing commences?

Although the (legislative) proposals are all at differing stages of maturity the (nationwide) state lottery and the exclusive provider of land-based sports-betting and lotto games have sought approval from the national competition authority to merge. This adds an additional dynamic to the debate.

This paper will consider how EU law has been a driver for regulatory reform in the Netherlands and, once the processes began to move, how EU law has been and is taken into consideration by different stakeholders in discourse and debate. Such stakeholders include the government, the gambling regulator, politicians, licence holders and new market entrants.

Whilst the modernisation process will not be completed by June 2016, the current reform processes will provide an interesting case-study on how EU law influences national discourse on the regulation of gaming. A case-study made more interesting by the fact that three aspects of the overall national regulatory regime are subject to reform around the same time.