The European Gaming and Betting Association’s (EGBA) Manager of EU Affairs, Vasiliki Panousi, has supported the proposed introduction of a ‘European Digital Identity’ (E-ID), citing its advantages for both the gambling market and its customers.
Should the E-ID be implemented, EU citizens would be able to store identity data such as name, date of birth, e-mail address, bank account numbers, certificates, driving licences and proof of COVID-19 vaccination status in an electronic wallet.
The E-ID, which would amend the European Commission’s existing regulation on electronic identification and trust services, would require both public bodies and private sector organisations to offer it to their users.
As a result, online platforms – such as gambling sites, as well as e-commerce and social media sites – would have to accept E-IDs to verify age and identity, with consumers enabled to identify themselves electronically, share documents and create electronic signatures throughout the EU.
“Α standardised, pan-EU identity verification method would, therefore, provide online gambling operators with a new, streamlined method for compliance with many different rules and help reduce administrative and compliance costs, in particular for those companies that operate across multiple member states,” Panousi remarked, speaking in the January 2022 edition of the International Masters of Gaming Law Magazine.
“An EU-wide e-ID would strengthen existing processes to prevent minors from accessing online gambling and positively impact the EU’s fight against criminal and fraudulent activity.”
The EGBA has noted that the regulation will not become applicable to member states until 2023 at the earliest, with the European Commission setting a target that, by 2030, 80% of EU citizens will be utilising E-ID wallets.
Additionally, there has been some discussion around the extent to which the E-IDs will enhance player protection, as self-excluded players need to be made aware of the technology and be able to make informed decisions on its use. This requires players to choose to share their specific data on self-exclusion in their wallet.
Panousi appeared undeterred by such concerns, however, saying: “It would also offer national gambling authorities a standardised tool to identify customers with a high degree of certainty and support an operator’s compliance in their jurisdiction.
“As well as streamlining the work of operators, an E-ID would also enhance the customer experience. In an ever-increasing era of online services, players would be able to verify their identities easily, with the click of a button.”
The EGBA’s support for this initiative is long-standing, as the association outlined the benefits of E-IDs in June last year after the European Commission (EC) first proposed the concept. Panousi recent comments echo the EGBA’s initial backing of the project, particularly with regards to compliance.