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Event 3 May 2023

Gambling regulation needs a risk based approach

EL Legal experts gather in Dublin to discuss a risk- and evidence based approach in gambling regulation

At the end of April, legal experts in the EL membership came together for the 2023 EL Legal seminar, hosted by Premier Lotteries Ireland (PLI) in Dublin, to discuss the importance of acknowledging that there is a hierarchy of risks between different type of games. Where measures to regulate the sector fail to consider appropriate risk assessment, the result may be an incoherent gambling policy jeopardising the benefit of the players, but also the society as a whole.

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Andrew Algeo, CEO, Premier Lotteries Ireland, Philippe Vlaemminck, Jannie Haek, & Alan Heuston

The Seminar kicked off with a debate featuring Jannie Haek, CEO of Loterie Nationale Loterij (Belgium) & Supervisory Chair of the EL Legal and Regulatory Working Group and Alan Heuston, Partner and Head of the Betting and Gaming Group in McCann Fitzgerald (Ireland), moderated by Philippe Vlaemminck, EL’s Legal Adviser and Partner, Vlaemminck Law (Belgium).

As part of the general discussion on risk-based approach in gambling regulation, Alan reflected in particular on the situation in Ireland in view of the of the country’s brand-new Gambling Regulation Bill. Jannie Haek underlined the importance of a risk based approach while pointing at several developments in Belgium and other European countries regarding for example e-Instant or iLottery games.

With advertising remaining high on the agenda of both regulators and operators, David Murphy, Deputy Data Protection Commissioner, Data Protection Commission (Ireland) discussed the risk-based approach to data protection compliance in the delivery of gambling products, in particular the processing of personal data in the context of online advertising.

Building further on this was Piet van Baeveghem, Secretary General, Legal & Regulatory Affairs Management, Loterie Nationale Loterij & Executive Chair of the EL Legal and Regulatory Working Group (Belgium) who reflected on a number of recent evolutions in advertising for lotteries and gambling and presented a proposal for the update of the EL Antwerp Resolution.

The Resolution, adopted in 2019, calls for a risk-based approach towards gambling advertisement in order to safeguard the channelling role of and the benefits for the society generated by the lotteries. In order to remain a useful and relevant tool in safeguarding the interests of lotteries, the Resolution is now deemed to be in need of an update in view of the new reality.

From an academic perspective, Dr Jonathan Parke, Director, Sophro (UK) shared his latest research examining the relative risk of gambling products and reflected on what he considers will be most relevant to regulatory issues in the lottery sector in the future. He criticised the currently used risk measurement tools and pointed at the importance of more elements to take into account when looking at the risk level of games.

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Piet van Baeveghem, David Murphy and the panelists

An extremely lively round table on the regulatory aspects of the iLottery games followed among Piet van Baeveghem, Dr Jonathan Parke, Stein Langberget, Executive Special Advisor to the CEO, Norsk Tipping (Norway), Joseph Macey, University Tampere (Finland), Chiara Iannizzotto, International Legal Advisor, Sisal Italia S.p.A. (Italy), facilitated by Ray Bates, EL Honorary President & Former CEO, Premier Lotteries Ireland.

The panellists dived into issues such as: the differences/defining characteristics between the iLottery games and casino games; the impact of these characteristics on the level of risk of a game; the importance of the look of a game to consider it as an iLottery game or casino game; differences relevant enough for the different regulatory environment in which games are offered; loot boxes; the impact of the player journey and/or responsible gaming features; whether there are relevant tools to assess the risk level of games and the environment in which they are offered.

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The Seminar further featured the more “traditional” legal slots, most notably an overview of the relevant case-law at the Court of Justice of the EU and an overview of the relevant policy developments at the EU level, with a special focus on digital/tech files by Philippe Vlaemminck, EL Legal Advisor, Beata Guzik, Director EU Public Affairs &  Valentin Ramognino, Lawyer, Vlaemminck.law (Belgium) and the anti-money laundering package by Iva Zorko, EL Senior Policy Officer.

Frederic FDJ

General gambling regulatory update across Europe was provided, as was the public affairs perspective. In particular, Frédéric Deroin, Head of European, Public & Regulatory Affairs, FDJ (France) & Executive Chair of the EL Public Affairs Coordination Working Group talked of the recent joint statement by GREF (Gaming Regulators European Forum) on fighting illegal gambling and the importance of studies on the prevalence of problematic gambling.

In his closing remarks, Jannie Haek noted that while lotteries differ – in terms of ownership, the games they offer and the regulatory framework in which they operate – they do have a common heritage and a joint responsibility to channel players towards a more responsible gambling offer. This concerns not only lottery as a game, but the overall environment lotteries as organisations offer. Lotteries are committed to remain the most responsible actors within the gambling sector by promoting strong scientific evidence to evaluate different forms of gambling and the risk-based approach building on such evidence which needs to rest on appropriate tools to assess risk level of each game correctly.

The seminar was moderated by Arjan van 't Veer, EL Secretary General.