Online Sportsbooks Welcome New EU Anti-Money Laundering Directive

A fourth edition of the European Union’s anti-money laundering (AML) directive, approved earlier this year, will be enacted to the widespread approval of dozens of prominent European sports books affected by the guidelines.  The Belgium-registered European Gaming & Betting Association (EGBA) is among those welcoming the latest updates to the EU-spanning rules, which promise to provide both increased simplicity and transparency to the rules governing the large-scale movement of money.

egba-logoThe latest updates to this fourth edition of the EU’s AML include new rules making it easier for EU member countries and others with legitimate interests to trace any suspicious transactions channeled through online sportsbetting and casino sites as a money-laundering aid.  Online sportsbook and casino sites’ use as channels for such behavior has not been major, but has been described as an area of opportunity.

Making it easier to identify tax evaders and possible connections to money movement by terrorist organizations is another goal of the stated AML measures.  One of the ways the latest AML rules will accomplish this is by requiring the real and “beneficial” owners of various corporate and legal entities, including pseudo-private trusts, to be made visible in a central registry.

This new registry is to maintained collectively by the EU member countries using a framework to be implemented by the EU.  The reason the EGBA, its member companies, and other online bookmakers generally welcome the latest AML initiative is for the simplicity the new approach should bring.  Instead of having to report suspicious transactions according to the individual rules of as many as 28 EU member or affiliated jurisdictions, the companies will soon be able to submit the information only once — to the central EU-based registry.

The EGBA’s Secretary Heneral, Maarten Haijer, said the following about the new AML rules:

“EGBA has actively engaged with the EU institutions to include online gambling in the new directive. It should ensure that EU online gambling providers now have one rather than 28 sets of AML rules to comply with to provide their services in the EU. The risk-based assessment underpinning the directive will apply to all services, with the exception of land-based casinos where there can be larger sums of cash money involved. Thanks to the perfect traceability of transactions and the already existing identification tools used by online gambling operators, EGBA is confident that the directive will further add to the safe provision of EU regulated online gambling services.”

Added Haijer:

“The [EU] Member States now have to transpose the directive into their national legislation. EGBA stands ready to assist the national regulators in this exercise in order to arrive at national frameworks which are consistent among each other and do not add to the fragmentation of the market. Special attention should also be dedicated to consistency with already existing local gambling legislation.”

According to the EGBA’s site, its current membership list includes Unibet, bwin.party, and three Betclic Everest brand divisions — Betclic, bet-at-home.com, and Expekt.  The larger, Gibraltar-based GBGA is also listed as an affiliate member of the EGBA.  That the EGBA is operated from Belgium does carry a touch of irony, given Belgium’s crackdown against both Betclic Everest as a company and its players as well, including the first of what is alleged to be several waves of fines levied against Belgian online punters.

Bwin.party, actually based in Gibraltar, is also listed as a current GBGA member, along with 32Red, 888 Holdings, Bet 365, Betfair, Betfred, Digibet, Gala Coral, Gamesys, Gtech, IGT, Ladbrokes, Lottoland, Mansion, Nektan, Ongame, Stan James, Tombola, Victor Chandler and William Hill.

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