Maarten Haijer is the Secretary General of the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA), representing the leading online gambling operators licensed and regulated in the EU. The EGBA advocates consistent online gambling regulation based on fair competition in accordance with EU law. Before joining the EGBA as director for regulatory affairs, Maarten worked as the internal market and consumer protection counsellor at the Netherlands permanent representation to the EU. Prior to that, he held several positions in the Dutch ministry of economic affairs, dealing predominantly with EU and WTO trade policy issues.
As new gambling regulations and digital technologies emerge across Europe, companies face similar challenges related to safer gambling and other areas. In this column, Maarten Haijer, Secretary General of the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) calls for global collaborations between companies and joined efforts to establish best practices and standards for an effective approach in that sense.
With demands on safer gambling continuing to grow across European countries, it’s important that gambling companies take their representation in society seriously to ensure the sector has a sustainable future. If we don’t, society will respond and ever stricter regulation will become inevitable and impact our ability to continue to do business. As companies and associations, we all need to work closer together towards a stronger culture of responsibility and cooperation so that the industry is better organised and represented.
Because there are way too many operators that sit on the periphery of our sector, don’t contribute to the representation of the sector, and choose not to participate to trade associations like EGBA.
Responsibility certainly requires commitment and resources. But there are some simple rules which companies can follow. Become a member of a trade association if you aren’t already. Invest in relationships with wider stakeholders and our critics. Help develop local industry codes of conduct and apply these. Meet regularly with the political and regulatory leaderships to identify issues and find solutions. Be open, honest, and transparent about your activities. Invest in strengthening the industry voice.
Many of the challenges faced by the sector are common and cross-border in nature and that is why greater cooperation between companies and associations is so important. Enhanced cooperation, particularly around safer gambling, can help industry actors to share information, learnings, and best practices about self-regulatory initiatives that work well, and those that don’t, and create a more supportive ecosystem to amplify the industry voice.
We’re pleased that many national trade associations share this vision – and actively participate to the European online gambling associations platform, which we jointly established with them in 2019. It’s encouraging that participation to the platform continues to grow, and it highlights that a stronger industry voice, through cooperation, is a shared vision across Europe. The platform already brings together 21 trade bodies* to share knowledge, experiences, and best practices. It meets regularly and, in many ways, organises cooperation that already existed for many years.
The platform also provides an important launch pad for joint industry actions, including the annual European Safer Gambling Week, which EGBA launched for the first time in 2021. The safer gambling week is an important responsibility initiative to promote safer gambling in Europe and is jointly organised by EGBA and various national trade associations. This year’s edition takes place on 17-23 October, and we look forward to open, honest, and constructive conversations about safer gambling during the week.
Our members take their responsibilities seriously and are working hard each, and every, day to promote safe and sustainable gambling – and cooperate together to be transparent and accountable about their activities. This is part of our collective effort, as EGBA, to contribute to a sustainable gambling sector that can fight for its interests, acknowledges its place in society, and answers the concerns that society might have, both today and in the future. But we can’t do it alone. That’s why we’re pleased to have national partners who’re committed to a stronger culture of industry responsibility and cooperation: in Europe and beyond.
* AFJEL – Association Française des Opérateurs de Jeu en Ligne (France); AOJND – Asociația Organizatorilor de Jocuri de Noroc la Distanță (Romania); APAJO – Associação Portuguesa de Apostas e Jogos Online (Portugal); BAGO – Belgian Association of Gaming Operators (Belgium); BGC – Betting and Gaming Council (UK); BOS – Branschföreningen för Onlinespel (Sweden); DOCV – Deutscher Online Casinoverband (Germany); DOGA – Danish Online Gambling Association (Denmark); DSWV – Deutscher Sportwettenverband (Germany); EGBA – European Gaming and Betting Association (EU); HOGA – Hellenic Online Gaming Association (Greece); IBA – Irish Bookmakers Association (Ireland); IBIA – International Betting Integrity Association (Global); iGEN – iGaming European Network (Malta); Jdigital– Asociación Española de Juego Digital (Spain); LIAB – Latvijas interaktīvo azartspēļu biedrības (Latvia); LOGiCO – Lega Operatori di Gioco su Canale Online (Italy); NBO – Norsk Bransjeforening for Onlinespill (Norway); NOGA – Netherlands Online Gambling Association (Netherlands); PIGBRiB – Polska Izba Gospodarcza Branży Rozrywkowej i Bukmacherskiej (Poland); OVWG – Österreichische Vereinigung für Wetten & Glücksspiel (Austria).