European Union Adopts Working Party Conclusions on Gambling Services

20 December 2010 Publication

Legal News Alert: Global Gaming

In its meeting on December 10, 2010, the Competitiveness Council of the European Union unanimously adopted the conclusions for a “Framework for Gambling and Betting in the Member States of the European Union.”

In 1992, the Council of Ministers agreed that the European Union should not consider the questions posed by gambling activities. The subsequent development of Internet gambling changed the environment and led to substantial litigation and legal uncertainty. In the ensuing E.U. presidencies, the Council Working Party of the Establishment & Services Group discussed gaming questions but did not reach a conclusion.

During the six-month term of the Belgian Presidency, the Council Working Party met to consider the issues relating to gambling and held two public conferences, one on the role of public authority on gaming and one on the sustainable contribution of state lotteries to society.

In its conclusion, the Working Party noted that online gambling poses global problems and that member states are confronted with various cross-border problems. The Working Party agreed that progress can be achieved to resolve such problems by reinforcing the role of public authorities to supervise the regulations of gambling in their territories, by working more closely together, and by cooperating with non-E.U. countries.

On the issue of lotteries, the Working Party recognized that state lotteries play an important role by funding good causes and that any future discussions at the E.U. level will need to recognize this specific role.

Early in 2011, the E.U. countries will commence a broad stakeholder consultation on online gambling to identify issues and propose solutions. The consultations will consider better law-enforcement mechanisms as well as problems relating to consumer protection.

After more than 18 years of legal battles and more than 30 cases involving various private parties and the majority of the E.U. member states, December’s Council decision is of the highest political importance as it opens the door for a balanced regulatory solution for gaming in the European Union and successfully concludes the work of the Belgian Presidency in this regard.

Philippe Vlaemminck and Annick Hubert of the Brussels-based E.U. law firm Vlaemminck & Partners acted as legal advisers to the Belgian Presidency and the Working Party.

Foley and Vlaemminck & Partners cooperate on gaming matters.

Legal News Alert is part of our ongoing commitment to providing up-to-the-minute information about pressing concerns or industry issues affecting our clients and colleagues.

If you have any questions about this alert or would like to discuss the topic further, please contact your Foley attorney or the following individuals:

Elizabeth L. Corey
Chicago, Illinois

Philippe Vlaemminck
Vlaemminck & Partners bvba
Brussels, Belgium
+32 2 787 97 11