1. The Gaming Regulators European Forum consists of representatives from gaming regulatory organisations throughout Europe. Its two main objects as stated in its constitution are:

to provide a forum in which European gaming regulators can meet, exchange views and information and discuss policy on gaming matters; and

on special occasions and with the agreement of members represent the different views of European gaming regulators and also provide a central point of contact for enquiries directed at them from authorities or related organisations in Europe and elsewhere.

At its meeting in Helsinki in May 1998, the Forum agreed this position statement on Internet gambling. As an association of experts in gambling regulation, it offers the statement as a set of recommendations of good practice for the consideration of the appropriate regulatory bodies and Governments of individual member countries, whether at national or autonomous regional level. It acknowledges that the countries will wish to consider, and if necessary adapt, the statement in the light of their particular legal, social, cultural and economic circumstances.

2. The Gaming Regulators European Forum regards the regulation of gambling (that is gaming, betting and lotteries) as a matter for the competence and jurisdiction of individual countries, in the light of their particular social, cultural and economic conditions. It therefore follows that it is a matter for individual Governments, either at national or at autonomous regional level, whether or not they wish to permit any forms of gambling to be offered on the Internet in their territories and, if they do, under what circumstances or conditions particular forms of gambling are to be allowed. Any such decisions should be respected by other jurisdictions.

 3. If a jurisdiction is to permit forms of gambling to be offered on the Internet, the members of GREF regard it as important that:

(i) those to be permitted to offer such forms of gambling should be subject to the same level of investigation and probity and other checks as is applied to traditional, terrestrial gambling operators.
(ii) those so licensed should be required to establish their operation in the territory of the jurisdiction concerned so that the operation can be properly controlled an policed.
(iii) the gambling so offered should be restricted to residents of the jurisdiction concerned and residents of such other jurisdictions with whom there are co-operative or reciprocal arrangements.

4. As a matter of good practice, those permitting such gambling should also address such issues as:

  • the methods to be used to ensure that such operations are fairly conducted and the players are fully aware of the rules that apply.
  • the methods of ensuring that such operations are not used as a means also of conducting any illegal activities, in particular for money laundering.
  • the permitted arrangements for paying for wagers on the gambling offered, including restrictions on the granting of credit.
  • the methods of protecting and guaranteeing the funds deposited and the monies won by the players.
  • the means of ensuring that no players are under the legally permitted age for the appropriate form of gambling in the jurisdiction concerned.
  • the means and level of protection to be offered to compulsive gamblers and others who have difficulty in controlling their gambling.
  • the controls to be placed on advertising, particularly in respect of jurisdictions which do not permit such gambling or do not welcome such advertising.
  • the methods to be used to protect the privacy of the players and the confidentiality of the information provided by them.
  • the methods to be used to ensure data protection and security of transmission.
  • the methods to be used to ensure that tests and checks are conducted regarding the randomness of the games and, including EDP-audits, regarding the electronic gaming systems used by the operators¬†

5. In considering whether to permit gambling operations on the Internet, it may be necessary to distinguish between those who simply seek to offer an alternative means of access to existing permitted terrestrial gambling products and those wishing to establish separate, new forms of gambling opportunities. In either case, consideration of the types of issue raised above is likely to be needed.

6. If a jurisdiction wishes to prohibit cross-border gambling on the Internet for its residents, and consequently wants to prevent the import of such gambling, it will probably need to do so by means of legislation preventing service providers from transmitting the offer of such facilities, rather than by means of prohibitions on individual residents of those jurisdictions from taking up such facilities. In support of this, consideration should be given to the possibility of requiring licensed Internet gambling operators to include in the contracts with their service providers a condition that the latter will prevent access to addresses of foreign (illegal) operators of Internet gambling in so far as the service providers can be expected to have notice of those addresses.

As adopted at the Annual Meeting in Helsinki on 15 May 1998. The meeting at Helsinki was attended by regulators from 15 countries (Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland).