Who Regulates the Gambling Regulators?

The current phase of regulation of the gambling market in EU jurisdictions is now almost over. Following the Spanish Gambling Regulation Act reaching the statute book, there is only one big jurisdiction left which has not yet regulated its gambling industry according to the EU legislation and European Commission (EC) directives – Germany. Other jurisdictions, such as Greece and Denmark, have yet to complete their journey to regulation, but they are not that far from the finishing line.

It is no secret that many countries were pushed into changing their legislation by court cases brought by commercial operators and infringements proceedings started by the EC. It is not too much of an exaggeration to say that some governments had to be dragged kicking and screaming to allow private operators into the national gambling market. Many countries did the minimum amount that was sufficient to stop EU infringement proceedings and designed regulatory frameworks that favoured, if not outright protected, their state-owned gambling monopolies. Additionally, just to make sure that commercial operators are not too successful, these same governments also imposed a high tax rate. France is a classic case study of this course of action and to a certain extent Spain and Greece are following French footsteps. Germany cannot bring itself to walk even that far.

Within this mix, regulators are given a wide remit to keep a check on commercial operators. ARJEL in France is fairly aggressive in making sure that commercial operators do not infringe the regulations, and even more aggressive with those who do not obtain a French licence but who continue to operate in France.

The role of regulators has up to now not been sufficiently analysed. Are they independent entities who regulate the market, similar to a Financial Services Authority or a Central Bank for the financial sector? Or are regulators in the gambling industry solely an arm of the country’s executive?

So far, the pattern of behaviour of gambling regulators leads observers to think that they act more like the arm of governments than independent referees.

Where state-owned gambling operators have a large market share and are protected by law from competition in certain sectors like lotteries, the behaviour of regulators tends to be important, not only as a matter of fairness, but from the point of view of enabling a truly competitive market. There is something wrong when the state controls the biggest firm or firms in the market and at the same time makes the rules through the regulator.

France is the case in point. The state controlled PMU and FDJ’s dominant position in land-based gambling activities (where they are protected by law) allowed them to gain a competitive advantage in online activities, even thought the law states they have to separate their land-based and online businesses. It took the European Gaming and Betting Association’s complaint to the French Competition Authority (FCA), and the subsequent non-binding opinion of the FCA stating that PMU and FDJ behaviour distorts the market to raise the issue. This is a classic case where the regulator should have intervened. One of ARJEL’s declared missions, after all, is to ensure compliance by operators.

One has to wonder if the reluctance, or frustration, of certain governments in allowing commercial gambling operators to trade is being reproduced in the actions of regulatory bodies.

It is in the interest of a properly functioning market that gambling regul

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Choosing the Best Gambling Site

Sometimes, you just get the feeling that the world of online gaming is a bewildering cacophony of flash banners, pop-ups, overloaded menus filled with too much information, and a confusing array of too much promotions and bonuses. This will surely leave you in a dizzy state, trying to make sense of all these online gaming stuff, when all you want to do is play some casino games or spend a few hours at your favorite card table.

Knowing where to go and how to begin playing online will save players a whole lot of time and money, and it will also allow them to enjoy their gaming experience more. People would think that picking out a gambling site from the myriad of options on the Internet is a simple affair. Perhaps they select their first casino based on who gives the highest payouts, or which one gives the highest stakes. While these factors certainly play a major role in helping you choose your online gaming venue, there are a few other important aspects to keep in mind, some of which may be neglected.

Payouts – Since every casino wants to be in on the “Top Ten” list of online casino reviews, finding an online casino with the highest payouts may be a bit difficult. The best thing to do in this case is to go to a well-established gambling resource website and read their reviews for the casinos listed there. You can also check out the winner lists at your favorite casino site, if you already have one in mind. As a rule of thumb, all the better gambling sites have these lists. Plus, if they are a member of the Interactive Gaming Council (IGC), they are required to be truthful of their advertising, which can add more confidence to your decision making.

Downloads – If you’re like me, you don’t like to spend several minutes of your time downloading software without having any idea what they’re getting. And that includes casino software. To help you out, the better casino sites feature a “Preview” page where you can view screenshots or even short videos to give you a better idea what you’re downloading. Some online casinos even provide tutorials for beginners that are just learning how to play. Downloading a software for 10 minutes and realizing that you don’t like it after all can be annoying, to say the least. The “Preview” section will show you beforehand what you’re getting, so look for it and use it before you start downloading.

Licensing – There has been some heated arguments over this issue, but basically, it all comes down to the casino itself. Regulating online casinos can be tough, since it’s pretty much a voluntary compliance issue with them. The casino decides whether or not it wants to be licensed and regulated, or not. For example, an online casino buys a license in Antigua costing $100,000. Now they can say they are “licensed”. But mind you, there will be no more follow-ups and no compliance rules to obey. They don’t have to do this licensing thing at all.

So where does that leave you? Fortunately, there is an organization of online casinos called the Interactive Gaming Council, or IGC. The IGC members are all required to follow their “Ten Points of Conduct”, which requires member casinos to be legally licensed, submit themselves to fair play testing, and maintain strict privacy controls over their clients’ financial information, among other things. Membership is still voluntary, but being an IGC member shows good faith on part of the casino, so the player can get some comfort from this.

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