BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union may try to counter money laundering through online betting sites by extending legislation beyond casinos to include Internet gambling.
The executive European Commission formally proposed on Tuesday to include online gaming in EU-wide legislation that seeks to combat fraud. It could become law within two years if approved by the EU's 27 member countries.
The Commission said by currently only monitoring casinos, "other areas of gambling (are) vulnerable to misuse by criminals".
The Commission also proposed reducing the permitted maximum for cash payments for goods and services to 7,500 euros ($10,200) from 15,000 euros and submitting shops and traders to a series of checks if they make or receive large payments.
About $1.6 trillion was laundered worldwide in 2009 - about 4 percent of the world's economic output, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
Online gambling is growing in popularity and companies such as Britain's largest bookmaker, William Hill, and rivals SportingBet and Stanleybet, have benefited from the rise in demand, particularly for betting on sporting events.
But gaming firms have also protested against stricter regulation, with some countries such as Germany having increased controls on advertising, as well as limiting the amounts customers can gamble and increasing taxes on betting.
Reporting by Robin Emmott; editing by Rex Merrifield