EL at the European Parliament – EL Panel Debate on the responsible advertising of gambling

EL organised a panel debate to assess the scope of the Audio-visual Media Services Directive (‘AVMSD’) as relates to commercial communications of gambling products.

In the light of the on-going revision of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (‘AVMSD’), the EL organised a panel debate the aim of which was to assess the status of commercial communications for gambling products in terms of the scope of the Directive.

The panel debate took place on 14 February 2017 at the European Parliament in Strasbourg and has been co-hosted by 3 MEPs – Hannu Takkula (ALDE, Finland), Marc Tarabella (S&D, Belgium) and Bogdan Wenta (EPP, Poland). It registered a very high level of attendance – more than 40 attendees (10 of which MEPs, some of whom directly involved in the AVMSD dossier) – and offered valuable contributions from the representatives of the European Commission, the European Audiovisual Observatory and experts on prevention of problem gambling.

 How is the current AVMSD affecting the gambling sector?

Ms Stéphane Pallez (CEO and President of the French lottery La Française des Jeux)

Gambling operations as such are excluded from the scope of the AVMSD. Commercial communications for gambling products, however, are currently not.

In practice, this means that gambling operators based in one EU Member State can broadcast their gambling products ads by satellite to the consumers residing in other EU Member State(s). Such practice is based on the country of origin principle which is at the very core of the AVMSD and implies that operators do not need to comply with 28 different sets of rules, but only with the set of rules of the country in which they are established.

In other words, current AVMSD enables gambling operators to reach out to the consumers and attract them without complying with the legislation of the Member States of these consumers related to inter alia taxation or consumer protection.

Contributions of the lotteries to the various causes of general interest

Unlike the malevolent operators mentioned above, the EL members offer gambling and betting services only in those jurisdictions in which they are licensed by the respective national government and in doing so they contribute more than 20 billion EUR per year to the state budget and the funding of sport, culture, social projects, research and other causes of general interest.

This has also been recognised by the European Parliament earlier this year as it adopted MEP Hannu Takkula’s Report on “Integrated Approach to Sport Policy: Good Governance, Accessibility and Integrity” which explicitly welcomed the financial contributions made by national lotteries to the grassroots sport:

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=REPORT&reference=A8-2016-0381&format=XML&language=EN#title1

New reality requires a new AVMSD

Introducing the event proceedings, MEP Takkula and MEP Tarabella highlighted that there is the need of the revision in order to take into account new technological advancements and to sufficiently protect European consumers in the new environments that these innovations have brought.

Opening the panel discussion, Stéphane Pallez, CEO and President of French lottery La Française des Jeux, pointed out that revising the AVMSD provides the opportunity to close the loop hole which is currently being used by illegal operators and, in doing so, will provide better protection to the consumers. Hansjörg Höltkemeier, the EL President, concurred with this, and stated that in order to fully protect consumers with the AVMSD, gambling advertising and marketing must be compliant with the legislative framework surrounding gambling operations in the Member States. Displaying a video of gambling advertisements during the event, Höltkemeier emphasised that many gamblers are not even aware that the advertisements they see are illegal and contrary to the rules that were established in order to keep the consumers safe.

Providing an institutional perspective, Victoria Leroy from the European Commission Directorate General for Communications Networks, Content & Technology (DG CONNECT), gave an overview of the background of the AVMSD, and the reasons as to why it was important to update this legislative framework. More and more viewers are going online, especially minors, whilst at the same time there are strict rules in place covering television. Therefore, in the new AVMSD proposal, it is important that consumers are sufficiently protected in the internet world.

Maja Cappello, Head of the Department for Legal Information, at the European Audiovisual Observatory, added that there is currently a lack of symmetry with the current rules, highlighting examples of licensed gambling providers in one Member State being prohibited from operating in another, yet still being allowed to advertise.

Dirk Hansen, CEO of GamCare, then took the floor to present the perspective from those that can potentially suffer from misleading gambling advertising. As a provider of information, advice, support and counselling for the prevention and treatment of problem gambling, Mr Hansen underlined that those who have gambling problems are particularly susceptible to the misleading gambling advertising.

Commercial communications for gambling products should be excluded from the scope of the revised AVMSD

Interactive questions and answers session has been moderated by Jutta Buyse, EL Deputy Secretary General.

During the session, MEP Santiago Fisas Ayxelà (EPP, Spain), concurred with his colleagues  from the European Parliament, stating that if gambling operations as such are excluded as an EU competence, then so should gambling advertising be, as this is the only logical conclusion.

Concluding the panel discussion, MEP Bogdan Wenta again emphasised that commercial communications for gambling products should indeed not be included under the country of origin principle and, therefore, excluded from the scope of the revised AVMSD.

What happens next?

Members of the European Parliament will vote on this important piece of legislation in the Committee on Culture and Education on 25 April, before a vote by the whole Parliament in a plenary session soon after.

More information

Read Hannu Takkula MEP’s press release from the event.

 

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Synopsis

Français
Le débat de l’EL sur la publicité responsable des jeux d’argent et de hasard. À la lumière de la révision en cours de la directive « Services de médias audiovisuels » (SMA), l’EL a organisé un débat qui a eu lieu le 14 février 2017 au Parlement européen à Strasbourg et a été co-organisé par 3 députés européens, Hannu Takkula (ALDE, Finlande), Marc Tarabella (S&D, Belgique) et Bogdan Wenta (PPE, Pologne). Le débat avait pour objectif de préconiser l’exclusion des communications commerciales pour les produits de jeu d’argent et de hasard du champ d’application de la directive révisée. En effet, les opérations de jeu d’argent et de hasard en tant que telles sont exclues du champ d’application de la directive SMA, mais les communications commerciales pour les produits de jeu ne le sont actuellement pas. En pratique, cela permet aux opérateurs de jeux établis dans un État membre de l’UE de toucher les consommateurs d’autres États membres et de les solliciter sans avoir à se conformer à la législation de ces États membres concernant, entre autres, la fiscalité ou la protection des consommateurs. Les membres de l’EL, d’autre part, ne proposent leurs services que dans les juridictions où ils sont autorisés par les gouvernements nationaux correspondants et, ce faisant, ils contribuent à hauteur de plus de 20 milliards d’euros par an aux budgets des États et au financement de diverses causes d’intérêt général. Les contributions financières apportées par les loteries nationales aux sports populaires ont été expressément saluées dans un rapport du député européen Takkula adopté par le Parlement européen plus tôt cette année. Le débat a permis la communication de contributions importantes de la part des représentants de la Commission européenne, de l’Observatoire européen de l’audiovisuel et d’experts sur la prévention des problèmes liés au jeu. Tous sont convenus que les communications commerciales pour les produits de jeux d’argent et de hasard doivent être exclues du champ d’application de la directive SMA révisée. Les membres du Parlement européen voteront cette importante mesure législative devant la commission de la culture et de l’éducation le 22 avril.  
Español
El panel de debate de la EL (Asociación de Loterías Europeas) sobre publicidad responsable en los juegos de azar.  Teniendo en cuenta la revisión en curso de la Directiva de servicios de comunicación audiovisual (en inglés, AVMSD), la EL organizó un panel de debate que tuvo lugar el 14 de febrero de 2017 en la sede del Parlamento Europeo en Estrasburgo, organizado conjuntamente por 3 eurodiputados: Hannu Takkula (ALDE, Finlandia), Marc Tarabella (S&D, Bélgica) y Bogdan Wenta (PPE, Polonia). El objetivo del debate era apoyar la exclusión de las comunicaciones comerciales sobre productos de juegos de azar del ámbito de aplicación de la Directiva revisada. En concreto, las operaciones de juegos de azar como tales están excluidas del ámbito de aplicación de la AVMSD, pero en la actualidad no sucede lo mismo con las comunicaciones comerciales sobre productos de juegos de azar. En la práctica, esto permite que los operadores de juego con sede en un Estado miembro de la UE puedan llegar a los consumidores de otros Estados miembros y atraerlos sin verse obligados a cumplir con la legislación de los países de residencia de los consumidores en lo relativo a la aplicación de impuestos entre distintos estados o la protección al consumidor. Los miembros de la EL, por el contrario, ofrecen sus servicios únicamente en aquellas jurisdicciones en las que están autorizados por los respectivos Gobiernos nacionales y, de esta manera, contribuyen con más de 20 000 millones de euros al año a los presupuestos del Estado y a la financiación de diversas causas de interés general. Los aportes económicos realizados por las loterías nacionales para el deporte de base han recibido una cálida acogida, de forma explícita, en un informe elaborado por el eurodiputado Takkula que el Parlamento Europeo aprobó a principios de este año. El panel de debate realizó varias contribuciones valiosas de mano de los representantes de la Comisión Europea, el Observatorio Audiovisual Europeo y expertos en prevención de la ludopatía. Todos ellos coincidieron en que las comunicaciones comerciales sobre productos de juegos de azar deben quedar excluidas del ámbito de la AVMSD revisada. Los miembros del Parlamento Europeo votarán sobre este importante instrumento legislativo en la Comisión de Cultura y Educación el 22 de abril.
Deutsch
Die EL-Panel-Debatte über verantwortungsvolle Werbung für Glücksspiele.  Angesichts der laufenden Überarbeitung der audiovisuellen Mediendienste-Richtlinie („AVMSD“) veranstalteten die EL eine Podiumsdebatte, die am 14. Februar 2017 im Europäischen Parlament in Straßburg stattfand und von drei Abgeordneten gemeinsam geleitet wurde – Hannu Takkula (ALDE, Finnland), Marc Tarabella (S&D, Belgien) und Bogdan Wenta (EVP, Polen). Ziel der Aussprache war es, den Ausschluss der kommerziellen Kommunikation für Glücksspielprodukte aus dem Geltungsbereich der überarbeiteten Richtlinie zu befürworten. Das heißt, Glücksspielbetriebe als solche sind aus dem Umfang der AVMSD ausgeschlossen, aber kommerzielle Kommunikation für Glücksspielprodukte ist es derzeit nicht. In der Praxis ermöglicht dies Glücksspielbetreibern, die in einem EU-Mitgliedstaat niedergelassen sind, den Verbrauchern in anderen EU-Mitgliedstaaten zu begegnen und sie anzuziehen, ohne die Rechtsvorschriften dieser EU-Mitgliedstaaten einzuhalten, die sich unter anderem auf die Besteuerung oder den Verbraucherschutz beziehen. Die EL-Mitglieder bieten ihre Dienstleistungen dagegen nur in den Ländern an, in denen sie von der jeweiligen Landesregierung lizenziert werden, und tragen außerdem mehr als 20 Milliarden Euro pro Jahr zum Staatshaushalt und zur Finanzierung verschiedener allgemeinwohltätiger Zwecke bei. Die finanziellen Beiträge der nationalen Lotterien zum Breitensport wurden in einem MEP Takkula-Bericht, der Anfang des Jahres vom Europäischen Parlament verabschiedet wurde, ausdrücklich begrüßt. Die Podiumsdiskussion lieferte wertvolle Beiträge von den Vertretern der Europäischen Kommission, der Europäischen Audiovisuellen Informationsstelle und von Experten zur Vermeidung von Spielsucht-Problemen. Alle waren sich einig, dass die kommerzielle Kommunikation für Glücksspielprodukte aus dem Geltungsbereich des überarbeiteten AVMSD ausgeschlossen werden sollte. Die Mitglieder des Europäischen Parlaments werden am 22. April über diesen wichtigen Rechtsakt im Ausschuss für Kultur und Bildung abstimmen.

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