European Commission Considers New Online Gambling Initiative

24 November 2003

The European Commission will examine the need for and scope of a possible new E.U. initiative on Internet gambling.

The commission on Friday published a report on the application of the Electronic Commerce Directive 2000. In that report , Internal Market Commissioner Frits Bolkestein of the Netherlands reacted to the directive's applying of the internal market principle of freedom to provide services to e-commerce.

"Online gambling, which is currently outside the scope of the directive, is a new area in which action may be required because of significant Internal Market problems," Bolkestein said. "See, for example, Case C-243/01 of the European Court of Justice, concerning criminal proceedings in Italy against persons collecting Internet bets on behalf of a bookmaker legally licensed in the U.K. The commission will examine the need for and scope of a possible new E.U. initiative. In addition, the commission is examining a number of complaints it has received concerning cross-border gambling activities."

The report states that 54 percent of European Internet users will be shopping online by 2006.

It emphasizes that, given continuing technological innovations and the rapid growth of e-commerce, the commission will need to keep a close eye on the application of the directive. It will work with member states to improve both information to businesses and citizens and the exchange of information among national and European authorities. The global nature of the Internet means that the commission will also need to strengthen dialogue with international partners so that worldwide rules can be drawn up where necessary.

Bolkestein added, "The E.U.'s directive is helping e-commerce to take off in the internal market by ensuring that Europe's e-commerce entrepreneurs can take full advantage of a domestic market of more than 370 million consumers. Real online success stories are emerging. But things change rapidly in this sector, so we cannot sit back. We now need to make sure that the directive continues to work well over the next few years, in an enlarged European Union."

Just today, British Ladbrokes and Dutch De Lotto took off the gloves again in a Dutch court, as a follow-up of the Sept. 5, 2003 verdict calling for Ladbrokes to block Dutch punters. This procedure on the merits could take years.

In the meantime, Dutch punters have found a way to continue betting in the United Kingdom via a so called anonymous proxy server of a British company. (See

The full text of the Commission's report is available at:

Rob van der Gaast has a background in sports journalism. He worked for over seven years as the head of sports for Dutch National Radio and has developed new concepts for the TV and the gambling industry. Now he operates from Istanbul as an independent gambling research analyst. He specializes in European gambling matters and in privatizations of gambling operators. Rob has contributed to IGN since Jul 09, 2001.