Wednesday, 13 October 2010

EGBA Responsible Gaming Day – Thoughts from today’s conference at the European Parliament

I attended the EGBA Responsible Gaming Day today and I wanted to share some snippits and thoughts from the day. MEP Timothy Kirkhope set the scene by sharing his thoughts on the evolution of the European gambling industry. Internet gambling is a reality and the challenge is to figure out how to best to regulate the industry and manage risk.  There was also mention of the plan to consult the gambling industry and Member States on a Green Paper, which Commissioner Barnier intends to release by autumn 2010

The first panel discussion debate was centred on discussing the Schaldemose Report one year on and how best to protect vulnerable people. The debate involved MEPs Toine Manders, Christopher Fjellner and Ashley Fox, who challenged the industry to proactively keep innovating to protect vulnerable players whilst it continues to grow, warning that otherwise 5 years down the line the industry could find itself ‘clobbered’ with more onerous legislation.

During the second panel discussion we heard from Ken Ducatel about the EU’s digital agenda, emphasising the need for all online operators to place trust at the heart of their practices to encourage greater digital inclusion from society, a point re-iterated by the panellists, Peter Reynolds from PartyGaming, Benoit Cornu from PMU and Mark Healey from NEOVIA. Peter made a very good point about operators being too concerned about protecting data rather than using data to better protect the customer.

The final panel discussion included a defence for the right for jurisdictions to maintain the ability to locally regulate by Ana Paula Barros of Santa Casa and an overview of the CENs progress on defining Responsible Remote Gambling Measures by John Ketchell, the CEN’s Innovation Director. Finally, Simon Planzer of St Gallen University provided an overview of the research he is conducting in collaboration with The Division on Addictions, which amongst other things will examine the correlations between regulation and the levels of disordered gambling.

Bwin co-CEO Norbet Teufelberger wrapped-up the conference by noting that the industry is pleased to see more focus from the legislators compared with previous years. He stressed the need to develop open and regulated markets and praised the European online gaming firms for developing the online gaming industry's leading and most innovative companies, whose technology assets are being leveraged to help grow the global market in a responsible manner.

There was a very good turn out and it proved to be a very interesting, useful and enjoyable event. A big thanks must go to the teams from EGBA and Waggener Edtsrom on organising a great event, both the evening entertainment and the conference (although I’m not sure how much they had to do with the very entertaining Belgium v. Austria match which ended-up finishing 4-4 last night!).