Liberal Democrat MEPs have refused to back proposals to ban online live betting, as adopted by the European Parliament in a report on the gambling industry drafted by Conservative MEP Ashley Fox.
While welcoming some of the measures proposed in the report, in particular those to reduce gambling-related addiction, Lib Dem MEP Sir Graham Watson has stated that banning live betting online would restrict consumer choice while failing to have a discernible impact on match-fixing.
Graham told the PRSD: ”This proposal is completely disproportionate. Many people enjoy placing online bets while watching sports such as football or horse-racing, and the overwhelming majority of them do not engage in any kind of match-fixing.
“Banning live betting would be an unnecessary interference that would only serve to push people onto less secure, unregulated websites.”
The report was led by a Conservative MEP for the region, Ashley Fox, while Lib Dem MEPs refused to back it after their proposal to remove the live sports ban was rejected. MEP Sir Graham Watson added: ”The Conservatives like to bang on about unnecessary interference from Brussels, but this time they are the ones at fault. We can only hope these proposals fall at the first hurdle.”
Concerns were also raised by Khalid Ali, the Secretary General of the ESSA, the licensed betting industry’s integrity body.
“Live betting is incredibly popular with today’s digitally-savvy consumer and is currently the most popular form of online gambling, accounting for more than half of all online sports gambling revenues,” he said.
“The European Parliament’s proposals to restrict this betting offer could be detrimental to the betting industry, especially as this decision was made without any evidence to justify this type of restriction,” he added. “In fact in 2009 the UK Gambling Commission found that they did not consider that in-play betting required any special regulatory treatment.”
(from a press release)