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European Parliament adopts resolution on online gambling

Increased cooperation between member states on issues of consumer protection and money laundering are two of the main aspects of a resolution on online gambling, approved by the European Parliament today.

The resolution, approved by 572 votes to 79, with 61 abstentions, is Parliament's reply to a roadmap entitled 'Towards a comprehensive European framework for online gambling', which the European Commission adopted last October.

The report, by MEP Ashley Fox, acknowledges that gambling is an activity of a special nature and must be accompanied by strong consumer protection measures as well as improved cooperation among member states to combat fraud, money laundering and match-fixing in sports, while respecting the subsidiarity principle.

MEPs call on the Commission and the member states to look into the possibility of setting up EU-wide 'self-exclusion registers', personal loss or time limits, so that any customer who wishes to exclude him or herself from gambling or who surpasses his gambling limits at one gambling operator, will have the opportunity to be automatically self-excluded from other licensed gambling operators.

They also recommend the introduction of uniform common systems for electronic identification to prevent minors from accessing online gambling websites and prevent multiple accounts per player. To make it easy for players to distinguish safe and legal sites, MEPs invite member states to oblige operators to carry a visible 'trust mark' or logo of the regulatory authority.

George Debrincat, chairman of the online gambling section at the Chamber of Commerce, said the report underlined what existing regulators and the EU-licensed industry had acknowledged for years, including the need to ensure fair gaming and betting products, high responsible gaming standards and consumer protection, prevention of money laundering and other criminal activity, the right to privacy, as well as the need to keep up to speed with technical developments."

The online gambling industry provides a significant contribution to Malta's GDP, with more than 7,000 people employed directly or indirectly, 240 registered companies and more than 400 operating licences.

The European Parliament Information Office in Malta and the Malta Business Bureau are holding a public dialogue on the subject at Europe House in Valletta on September 20. The event will include an expert overview of the European Parliament's position, a panel debate with the industry and interventions by MEPs.

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