Commercial, Government Safe-Gaming Standards Measure Up, Study Says

6 November 2008

A study of the responsible gaming standards employed by private European betting and gaming operators has found that more than half, or 67 percent, provide equal if not better consumer protection than those of Europe's 10 largest gambling monopolies.

In 2007, members of the European Betting and Gaming Association, which lobbies on behalf of commercial Internet gambling operators, adopted a set of nearly 170 standards governing all aspects of online gaming, betting and associated services.

Members are required to operate within these standards, and compliance is verified by an annual audit carried out by the e-Commerce and Online Gaming Regulation and Assurance, or Ecogra, a non-profit that sets online gambling industry standards.

For the study, Ecogra was appointed to compare the association's standards to those of 10 monopolies: France's Française des Jeux and Pari Mutuel Urbain; Sweden's Svenska Spel A.B. and Trav och Galopp A.B.; Germany's West Lotto and Lotto Bayern; Finland's Veikkaus Oy; Denmark's Danske Spil A.S.; the Neteherlands' De Lotto; and Portugal's Jogos de Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa.

According to the results, 43 percent of the standards already applied by European private operators match those used by the monopolies. Another 24 percent exceed the monopolies', while just 4 percent are deemed to be below par.

The remaining standards could not be benchmarked, according to the association, due to insufficient information or inapplicability.

Sigrid Ligné, secretary general of the association, told IGamingNews today by telephone that the study was undertaken to catalog existing responsible gaming standards and demonstrate that Internet gambling industry standards, by comparison, are state of the art.

"For that purpose we need to have a close monitoring of what is out there on the market," she said. "So, having such a study is the first way of providing us with sufficient impact to be able to assess where improvements are possible or needed.

"It (also) provided an opportunity, in the broader European context, in discussing the opening of markets to assess where we are at the moment, compared with the main national monopolies," she added.

At the very least, the study presents a strong case for opening up the discussion between monopolies and private operators.

"It's dismissing quite clearly the argument that we are raising more problems than state monopolies do," Ms. Ligné said. "We can prove in this study that, in many cases, we are offering similar protections. In a certain number of cases we offer even better protection and in very, very few cases we offer less protection."

The association has no plans to use the results for lobbying purposes -- the numbers are public, Mr. Ligné said, and governments across Europe have access to them., Bwin Interactive Entertainment A.G., Digibet, Carmen Media Group, Expekt, Interwetten, PartyGaming and Unibet are all members of the association.

Click here to read an overview of the study.

Emily Swoboda is the senior staff writer at IGamingNews. She lives in St. Louis, Mo.