Thursday, February 16, 2006Contact: Maurits Bruggink
0033-1-5609 9340
EU votes against liberalisation of gambling services

The European Parliament voted today on the controversial proposal for a new law on services. The law, also named "Bolkestein directive", after its author, aims to liberalise the services sector in Europe, but has been watered down considerably by European Parliament amendments.

Instead of the contentious "country of origin" principle, which would allow companies to offer services across the borders according to their home country laws, the new text spells out that member states can uphold restrictions on particular services.

Gambling services have been completely removed from the scope of the law. The European Parliament’s report justified one amendment as follows: “... Gambling activities are intrinsically linked to public order and consumer protection issues and therefore lie outside the sphere of competence of the Community institutions and must remain a sector which the Member States are free to regulate as they see fit”.

The racing authorities around the world are pleased with the exclusion of gambling services. Betting on horseracing is a mattter of national jurisdictional integrity. Betting should not be made subject to supra-national lawmaking and all of the worlds main jurisdictions have therefore excluded gambling from liberalization on the WTO world trade talks.

The EU exclusion fits in the scheme of events and corresponds with the position laid down in the International Agreement of the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities, which reads: "...Wagering opportunities shall only be offered in another country with the express consent of that country's relevant governmental authorities, if required, and in compliance with the legal and regulatory requirements of that country.

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