Arjan van’t Veer was kind enough to give us a very interesting interview about the work of the European Lotteries (EL) association, of which he is Secretary General. In this way we found out and we can inform you, the readers of Casino Inside magazine, who the EL members are, what their plans are, what their mission is, what are the main principles that guide their activity or how EL supported society during the COVID-19 pandemic.
For people who don’t know, tell us what the European Lotteries (EL) do? Who are the members and what is the mission?
The European Lotteries (EL) is the umbrella organisation of national lotteries operating games of chance, including sports betting, for the public benefit in more than 40 European countries – with around 50 Members in all EU Member States. As the European lottery and gambling sector’s largest and most representative organisation, EL represents both state-owned and private operators offering lottery, gambling and betting services on-and-offline. EL Members only operate in the jurisdictions in which they are licensed by the respective national governments and where they pay all taxes and comply with the legal requirements (Anti-money laundering, responsible gaming policies etc).
EL believes in the overall benefit of national (state) licensed lotteries for society as a guiding principle to protect players and to run a public lottery or other games of chance. The mission of EL is to promote a sustainable and sound gaming model for the benefit of society, based on its core lottery values – responsibility, sustainability/society and integrity.
What are the plans, objectives and actions of EL for the next couple of years?
There is no doubt that the pandemic has affected the lottery sector over the past 18 months. Yet, The European Lotteries adapted quickly last year and has continued its two important statutory tasks since – to advocate and promote the interest of its Members and to act as a platform for education and exchange of best practices.
Given the unprecedented situation and the uncertainly that still lies ahead, EL remains cautious in its approach. For the time being, the Association continues to offer online events which reach our Members and attract broader audiences on a series of important and relevant topics. Over the next two years, the strategic vision of EL is to ‘reconnect’, with hopefully physical meetings and new products and services for EL Members. In 2022 the EL Industry Days are planned to take place in Wiesbaden, Germany and in 2023 the EL Congress and Trade Show in Sibenik, Croatia.
During the The European Lotteries General Assembly earlier this year, EL Members adopted mandatory Responsible Gaming certification and a Resolution on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). These are important tasks for the Association to implement in the coming years. Mandatory certification is part of EL’s ambition to put the lottery values at the forefront of its members’ businesses. Player protection lies at the core of their activities. A ‘buddy’ system for not yet certified Member Lotteries will enable them to ask certified Members for support.
Aside of EL events and exchanging best practices between Members, the Association continues to monitor policy developments and legislative proposals at EU level and where needed at national level, that are relevance to the gambling sector. As the pandemic continues to play a role in the way advocacy activities are conducted, EL remains vigilant and continues to explore creative and new ways of connecting with policymakers to defend the interest of EL Members. Looking ahead, important dossiers on the EL agenda include the Digital Services Act (DSA), Anti-money Laundering and Digital taxation.
Could you tell us more about EL’s advocacy work at EU level?
As part of the European Commission’s ambitious mission to make Europe “fit for the digital age” the Digital Services Act has added real impetus to tackling illegal online content through its notice-and-action mechanism. Last year EL took the initiative together with the European Casino Association (ECA) and the World Tote Association (WoTA) to publish an open letter on battling illegal gambling online. The three associations welcomed the Commission’s efforts and once again called out on illegal gambling operators that make it practically impossible to protect consumers and undermine the sustainable gambling model for the benefit of society.
In contributions to EU public consultations on relevant topics such as the European Strategy for Data, Artificial Intelligence, Money Laundering, the New Consumer Agenda and DSA, The European Lotteries stresses the importance of a national approach towards the regulation of gambling in Europe to safeguard the interest of plays at best and sustain the successful model of national lotteries in Europe to benefit society. Subsidiarity is the leading principle here.
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What can you tell me about the cooperation with Romanian National Lottery?
The Romanian Lottery (CNLR SA) has been a Member of EL since 1991. During these years, it has hosted events in Romanian for the Association and was in the past a Member of the EL Executive Committee. Still today the Romanian Lottery engages in activities organised by the Association and considers collaboration as a priority.
Responsibility, Sustainability and Integrity are three of most important parts of EL’s genes. European Lotteries has a Guideline of Principles after which the members of your association are guided?
The identity of EL and its Members is defined by its shared core values – responsibility, society/sustainability and integrity.
- Responsibility – EL and its Members believe in a high level of consumer protection and responsible gaming and give it priority over other interests. This is a key differentiator of how lotteries and other activities of EL members are operated in comparison to gambling operators or illegal operators. It includes a very clear commitment to maintain Corporate Social Responsibility at the heart of the activities of EL Members.
- Society/sustainability – These values are based on the idea that social and public order concerns prevail. This does not preclude profit generation but always acknowledges that lotteries and other activities of EL Members are run in society’s best interest, means in the best balance between social costs adhering to individual countries’ regulatory frameworks and -as a result of this regulation- lottery-profits.
- Integrity – Over and above EU and national laws, EL Members truly ‘walk the talk’ and operate strict standards (e.g. EL and WLA Security Standards) to provide secure and fair operations and to manage the risks of fraud and other forms of crime. The sports betting business by EL Members is operated living up the highest integrity standards.
In the gambling sector, the stakeholders’ interests are different and not per se aligned. Players look for fun and trust in participating in games of chance. While the challenge for the operator is to meet the various demands, regulators are looking for a sustainable and legal gambling-sector with moderate and controlled offers, with overall net profits for society (profits minus social costs). In this context, EL Members make the difference where it matters most compared to other operators: the values of EL Members have to be reflected by the states and regulators through a strong principle-based regulatory framework such as mandatory responsible-gaming, assurance of secure operations, corporate-governance-standards, legal exclusion of dangerous offers and last but not least taxes. Appropriateness needs subsidiarity as an indispensable principle of regulation. EL therefore calls for strict, but appropriate regulation foremost to protect the interests of the players in this sensitive sector.
Can you tell me how Responsible Gaming (RG) is promoted by the Members?
Strict regulation based on national principles, ensure that the games provided by EL Members can be played in a safe and transparent environment. Protecting the well-being of the players is of utmost importance to national lotteries.
Committed to addressing illegal gambling and related criminal activities while minimising any potential harm on society, EL has developed a Standard that aims to promote the adoption of best practices across the EL membership: the EL Responsible Gaming Certification. EL also recently updated its “Responsible Gaming Standards”, which are the core of the EL policy framework for responsible gaming. (https://www.european-lotteries.org/system/files/2021-09/EL%20Responsible%20Gaming%20Standards_v4_2021_EN_0.pdf )
EL Members promote the EL Responsible Gaming Standards as well as exchange best practices and knowledge between each other. EL has a Working Group dedicated to Responsible Gaming and CSR and every organises an event to cover these important topics.
There is a fine balance between meeting the demand for gambling and ensuring gambling does not negatively impact players and society. EL Members strive to strike this balance by channelling players away from unlicensed or illegal operators and providing secure games in a controlled and safe environment. In all EU Member States, national lotteries must comply with the national regulations for their games and overall operations. Every single game is subject to a strict set of rules, covering impact tests, advertisement regulations, the number of draws, age and stakes limits, and the way results are published. All operations are regularly monitored and checked by the competent national Gambling Authorities.
EL and its Members are committed to generating the best for the benefit of society in accordance to national laws and regulations. This commitment goes further than Responsible Gaming, as a core value, and must include CSR as a broader perspective. EL Members also play a crucial role in sustainable business practices and developed CSR Guidelines to allow lotteries to assess, develop and add value to their stakeholders, actions and CSR commitments.
The European Lotteries CSR Guidelines help EL members to focus on organisational governance, consumer issues, fair operating practices, labour practices, human rights, community involvement and environment and stakeholder identification and communication. Most recently, during the 2021 EL General Assembly EL Members adopted the EL CSR Resolution. (https://www.european-lotteries.org/system/files/2021-06/CSR%20Resolution_2021_EN.pdf)
How has EL supported society during the COVID-19 pandemic?
As the COVID-19 pandemic presented Europe and the rest of the world with the biggest health, economic and social crisis in modern history, EL and its Members continued to fulfil their core values of responsibility, sustainability, and integrity by supporting local communities. From offering relief and funding medical equipment to the creation of emergency funds and welfare aid, these efforts uphold the historic support of national lotteries to society in times of need.
Support from EL Members to society came (and still comes) in many different ways, for example financial donations to organisations to provide food and health supplies to the most vulnerable, the provision of essential health care materials to hospitals such as monitors and nebulizers as well as donations of cars to hospitals in urgent need of transport. EL Members have also supported grassroot projects and local communities by delivering humanitarian aid to the elderly, supporting sport federations to encourage well-being and physical exercise during the pandemic and support artists and cultural activities online. EL Members also supported their own employees, players and retailers throughout COVID-19.
Many examples from EL Members are available here https://www.european-lotteries.org/news/el-members-support-society-during-covid-19-update-march and here https://www.benefit4society.eu/ as well as in our Annual Report 2020 https://www.european-lotteries.org/system/files/2021-07/EL-AR2020_final_0.pdf
In general, every national Lottery do different programs in their country to help people who are in need, can European Lotteries do a European program where to reunite all the members efforts and to contribute at common cause?
The most recent example of contributing to a common cause is during the COVID-19 pandemic where national lotteries upheld their historic support to society in times of need. EL Members continued to fulfil their core values of responsibility, sustainability, and integrity by supporting local communities. EL’s latest Annual Report (2020) provides further information https://www.european-lotteries.org/system/files/2021-07/EL-AR2020_final_0.pdf
Further information at: www.european-lotteries.org