Europe's New Casino Association

2 February 2005

A European trade group formed last week aims to unite casino interests throughout the continent.

The European Casino Association was created during meetings held by the European Casino Forum (ECF) in conjunction with the International Casino Exhibition in London. The ECF determined at those meetings that forming a formal trade group was the best course of action for ensuring that the industry's best interests are accounted for amid myriad gambling-related policy issues throughout the European Union.

Executives and representatives from European casino groups voted during a special forum to form the association and installed Andres Galfvensjo from Sweden as the chairman and Ron Goudsmit from the Netherlands as vice chairman.

No one expects immediate policy changes in Europe, but an overhaul of England's gambling laws could create a domino effect throughout the continent. Further, a variety of laws, regulations and court cases affecting the industry are getting attention in the continental member states. State-run monopolies dominate the gaming and wagering industries in most E.U. jurisdictions, but this could change within the next 10 years. The founders of the ECF felt that these ongoing issues necessitate the existence of a formal association.

The ECA will operate globally and represent more than 800 casinos in 19 European jurisdictions. Its members collectively employ 73,000 people--a figure expected to rise sharply in the near future. With a central lobbying effort for both the European Union and individual jurisdictions, the ECA is hopeful that the casino industry will have a united front in dealing with governments and regulators.

The founders of the ECA say it will be much more structured than the ECF, which started as an informal group of executives and leaders from the casino industry and took on a more structured role over the last few years.

The new association will soon open up its central office in Brussels and form a board of directors. (The ECF has a president and secretary-general but no working staff or physical offices.)

The formation of the ECA makes the future of the ECF unclear. Heliodoro Giner, the Secretario General for the Asociacion Espa├▒ola de Casinos de Juego and a board member for the ECF, said the ECF could amalgamate into ECA operations and is hopeful that the new group will present a unified front similar to that of the American Gaming Association.

Giner said the four main issues facing the casino industry in Europe are the lack of regulation for online gaming; regulation on money laundering; proposals to harmonize gambling services legislation; and proposals on medals and tokens resembling euro coins.