Responsible gaming, consumer protection and preservation of public order remain issues of utmost importance for the Members of the European Lotteries (EL). With a recent surge in digital developments, there are possibilities for the lottery sector as well as challenges that could jeopardise the sustainable national lottery model. An event organised in the European Parliament by EL considered this topic.
The advent of the digital age could usher it to a new era with technology providing the next big jump in the way games are played. Yet, there are also potential dark pitfalls and questions about the long-term nature of the sustainable lottery model (in terms of redistribution, responsible gambling modalities, sector-specific regulation, etc.). The protection of consumers, especially vulnerable individuals, and minors, as well as public order against money laundering and fraud remain top priorities for lottery operators in Europe. EL stands for a balance between the deployment of new technologies and developments in the new forms of gambling for purely commercial purposes on the one side and consumer or player protection and public order on the other side.
The rapid growth of technologies for digital transformation such as artificial intelligence (AI) and new forms of (online) entertainment like e-sports and video games are just some of the many developments on the horizon. A legislative framework on AI and an own-initiative report of the European Parliament related to e-sports and videogaming and consumer protection are being prepared by the EU Institution. Although these developments can be used to enhance player experience in exciting ways, they come with responsibility. EL is closely monitoring these developments.
Discussions also focused on the Digital Services Act (DSA). EL and its Members strongly believe in a high level of consumer protection and are fully committed to the fight against illegal online gambling. EL welcomes a number of provisions foreseen in the DSA, namely on content moderation and notice-and-action rules, which will be of use in the fight against illegal offerings online. Yet, it warns about recital 29 which makes a reference to online gambling and betting services in the context of freedom of establishment and freedom to provide services. The EU Court of Justice clearly confirmed on several occasions that restrictions in the gambling sector are justified for reasons of public order, public security, public health, or the overriding reasons in the public interest, such as consumer protection, combating fraud, crime or squandering of money. A major concern is that illegal online operators might misuse this mention to bypass the fact that there is no mutual recognition of licenses in the gambling sector. This could limit the take-down possibilities against illegal online gambling, as foreseen by the DSA. EL therefore calls for great caution in enforcement of this Act.
EL emphasises the need for consumer protection and clear guidelines in the further development of these dossiers that are close to the heart of the lottery sector. EL calls on EU policymakers to sustain the current successful model of national lotteries is Europe, support national gambling policies through the principle of subsidiarity and safeguard the benefits of national lotteries for society. EL will continue to work closely with the EU institutions and other relevant stakeholders to preserve the national model of lotteries.
The event was organised by the EL Public Affairs Coordination Working Group (PAC) and hosted by Member of the European Parliament Mr. Fulvio Martusciello (EPP, Italy). Stéphane Pallez, CEO, La Francaise des Jeux (FDJ), France, EL 1st Vice President & Supervisory Chair of the EL PAC Working Group and Deborah Behar, Legal Officer, DG Connect, European Commission set the scene for discussions followed by a panel debate with Marc Tarabella, MEP (S&D, Belgium), Jan Havlik, Head of Unit Internal Market and Competitiveness, Czech Permanent Representation in Brussels, and Marina Geymonat, Head Innovation Lab, SISAL (Italy). The event was moderated by Valerie Thys with closing remarks came from Hansjörg HÖLTKEMEIER, Member of the Managing Board, Deutsche Klassenlotterie, Berlin, and EL President.