The debate about whether to ban certain internet sites has once again broken out in the European Union. Previously to discourse was about child pornography, now the theme is illegal online gambling sites.
Illegal online gambling
In a report adopted by the European Parliament’s Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection, MEPs call on member states to establish uniform registration procedures for online gambling operators in order to prevent a further rise in illegal services.
The report encourages member states to exchange white and black lists and share best practice ideas on how to prevent access to illegal gambling websites.
To protect consumers from illegal online gambling operators, the committee recommends that member states jointly define secure and traceable payment solutions and consider the feasibility of blocking financial transactions.
Advertisements which exaggerate the probability of winning and thus give the false impression that gambling is a reasonable method through which a person can improve their earnings should be banned, the report states.
The civil rights organisation, European Digital Rights (EDRi) heavily criticised the opaque call to block illegal gambling sites and labelled the report a failed high-school project. The organisation points out that the European Commission has previously acknowledged that blocking websites is costly and inefficient.
According to EDRi, the rapporteur for the report was British conservative MEP Ashley Fox opposed many of his colleague’s proposals and German shadow rapporteur, Jürgen Creutzmann (ALDE), has since informed EDRi that he will demand a split vote on the report which will enable MEPs to vote on the wording of the report in separate phases.
German State Treaty on Gambling
German states unsuccessfully attempted to include internet blocking in the State Treaty on Gambling. Consequently, internet service providers were not forced to block illegal gambling websites. The critical opinion at the time was that internet blocks are useless, easy to bypass and disproportional.
How MEPs will react to the committee’s report in the plenary remains to be seen.