Protection of online gamers in EU

The Parliament calls on the European Commission to analyse the way in which loot boxes are sold as well as to take the necessary steps to bring about a common European approach to ensure protection of consumers.

MEPs also warn about the practice of "gold farming“, where users acquire in-game currency and later sell it for real-world money. Likewise, items obtained in games as well as whole user accounts can be exchanged, sold or bet on with real currencies, contradictory to the terms and conditions applied by video game publishers.

These practices can be connected with money laundering, forced labour and child exploitation in developing countries, which is why Parliament calls on national authorities to put an end to them.

Making cancellation easier

MEPs stress that cancelling online video game subscriptions has to be as easy as subscribing to them and said that auto-renewals could be problematic, if they continued indefinitely against the consumer’s intentions. The return and refund policies have to comply with EU consumer law, as consumers must have the same right to return and ask for a refund for online purchases as they have for in-person purchases.

Protecting children better

Parliament wants to ensure that children are better protected against the possible harms of online video games and targeted advertising.

It calls for better parental control tools in line with the Pan European Game Information (PEGI) system (https://pegi.info) that would enable parents to exert more control over their children’s playing habits and to better monitor time and money their children spend on video games. Taking into account the potential negative impact of video games on mental health, MEPs want game designers to avoid manipulative game design that can lead to gaming addiction, isolation and cyber-harassment.

Keeping vulnerable groups safe

To ensure better protection for vulnerable groups, consumers should have all the necessary information about the game readily available. This would help them to make an informed decision about any possible purchases. Parliament also demands that online video games producers must strive to create games that are more inclusive and accessible.

Better compliance with data protection rules

Online video games should protect even better users’ data in line with the requirements of the General Data Protection Regulation, MEPs insist in their report.                                                                                                                                                          

Supporting the online gaming sector

The online video game sector is booming and contributing to the digital transformation of the EU. Many people use online video games not only as a leisure activity, but also as mental exercises. Games are also a useful tool in education.

The Commission is asked to put forward a European Video Game Strategy to support more than 90,000 direct jobs in Europe. As the sector is expanding rapidly, the economic, social, educational, cultural and innovative aspect of online video games has to be taken into account.  To celebrate achievements in the sector, Parliament wants to establish an annual EU online video game award.

MEPs welcome the EU Kids Online research project that aims to gather data from across Europe about children’s experiences with online video games. MEPs call for EU funding for this and other similar projects.

As technology evolves, regulations in various industries also need to do the same. Although Europe is regarded as a “single state” in relation to its economic significance and is governed by the EU, individual countries are still responsible for passing their own laws. This is especially true within the gambling industry since no regulation or legislation standardizes betting throughout the continent. And the same goes for the United Kingdom. Though no longer part of the EU, the gambling market in the UK is still strongly connected to the rest of the EU gambling landscape.

The global gambling market is estimated to reach roughly $876 billion by 2026, evolving at a CAGR of 3.6% over the assessment period.

A well-regulated market.

The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) was formed to keep the casino industry under control. Their main objective was to promote a sustainable iGaming sector in Europe to help players enjoy a safe and fun experience inside a well-regulated market.

Based in Brussels, the association has worked to shape gambling regulations in the region. Online gaming companies associated with EGBA abide by a large set of industry standards designed to complement the numerous licensing guidelines they already adhere to in European nations.

Such European industry standards incorporate Responsible Remote Gambling Measures introduced by the European Committee for standardization and are executed to achieve the below objectives:

  • Ensuring the safety of vulnerable gamers.
  • The prevention of underage gambling via age verification.
  • Countering criminal and fraudulent behaviour.
  • Safeguarding customer privacy and the protection of private information.
  • Accurate and prompt payments for customers.
  • Responsible and truthful marketing through advertising regulations.
  • Fair and responsible gaming.
  • The prevention of money laundering.
  • Ensuring a safe, secure, and reliable operating environment.
  • Dedication to customer support and satisfaction.

A growing number of European Union countries have established licensing systems allowing more than one operator to provide services on the market. Under EU law, no system is favoured over another. Gambling regulation in European Union countries involves diverse regulatory frameworks. In several judgments, the Court of Justice of the European Union has legitimized the compliance of national regulatory systems with European Union Law.

The Commission promotes the efforts of EU nations to upgrade their national online gambling legal systems, particularly in administrative cooperation among gambling regulatory authorities. It also offers support to protect gamblers and vulnerable individuals, including minors.

Attribution: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/headlines/society/20230112STO66402/five-ways-the-european-parliament-wants-to-protect-online-gamers

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