A European Commission (EC) senior representative recently addressed online gaming operators at London's ICE conference calling for all countries in the European Union (EU) to establish an online gaming licensing system.
According to Italian portal GiocoNews, EC Deputy Head of Unit, DG Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs Harrie Temmink stated, "Operators need to have a license for the specific country in which they offer games, without being able to count on the recognition of licenses between one European country and another. For their part is for the Member States to ensure a non-discriminatory system of issuing permits."
The EC appears to have moved away from the idea of having a single licensing system throughout the EU, since "the European states are opposed to harmonization."
The statements by Temmink could be surprising to many gaming operators and others in the industry since it appears to be in direct contrast to the goals of former EU Commissioner Michel Barnier, who was calling for a centralized EU gaming licensing regime.
While Barnier recognized that many countries within the EU demanded control of their gaming licensing system, he believed this was against EU policies of free trade within the EU.
The recently appointed EU Commisioner Günther Oettinger appeared to be continuing pushing the objectives his predecessor outlined when he referred Sweden to the European Court of Justice (CJEU). However, this action appears to be related to Sweden's monopolistic and confusing gaming licensing regime.
According to GiocoNews, Temmink said this about the CJEU case against Sweden: "We know there is a monopoly with 50 percent, but what about the other 50 percent? God knows what is happening. For the European Commission this is totally unacceptable. I expect that some open cases against other Member States will adopt in 2015."
Although Temmink appears to be backtracking against the former EU Commissioner's objectives and what appeared to initially be the new EU Commissioner's objectives, he does state that there does need to be a level of cooperation between member states.
"We would like to find an agreement between all the regulatory authorities in Europe for the exchange of information on license holders and enforcement measures, and we are trying to do it this year," Temmink said.
In a perfect world, Temmink would like to include the United States of America in a cooperative agreement, "In an ideal world you should force the United States to do this, but the EU law does not allow it," said Temmink. "However, this is a work-in-progress, and we hope that there will be developments this year. Obviously there are areas that need to be clarified, such as the determination of the scope of trade between the regulators."