Regulation & Licensing
Consumer choice & protection
Facts & Figures
CJEU: AG CONSIDERS GREEK GAMBLING MONOPOLY OPAP TO BE CONTRARY TO EU LAW
CJEU expected to rule within months on the non-conformity of Greek gambling monopoly OPAP; over four years after the Commission had expressed the same concerns in a Reasoned Opinion but failed to press ahead with legal action through the Court.
According to Advocate General Mazák, in the joined Greek cases (C-186/11 and C-209/11) at the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) on whether OPAP complies with the strict requirements placed on monopolies:
“OPAP seems to pursue an expansionist commercial policy and […] an increase in the supply of games of chance" (para 50). "Those circumstances […] are in my view manifestly inconsistent with the purported objective of reducing the betting and gaming opportunities in Greece" (para 51).
“the activities of OPAP are neither subject to strict control by the public authorities nor effectively limited by the legislative framework applicable to it.” (para 60)
if the national court concludes that: “the national legislation at issue granting the exclusive right to run, manage, organise and operate games of chance is incompatible with Articles 49 and 56 TFEU […] that legislation cannot continue to apply during a transitional period.” (para 73)
Maarten Haijer, Director for Regulatory Affairs at EGBA comments: “We welcome AG Mazák’s opinion confirming the strict EU law requirements a gambling monopoly needs to fulfil and why he considers that the Greek gambling monopoly OPAP fails to do so. Greece must use this opportunity to regulate its online gambling market on a competitive and EU compliant basis, not just to provide customers a safe legal offer, but also to secure much needed tax revenues.”
Haijer further adds: “It´s quite ironic that the CJEU is now going to rule in this case; over four years after the Commission had expressed the same concerns in a Reasoned Opinion but failed to press ahead with legal action through the Court. We are encouraged by Commissioner Barnier´s statement to reactivate all gambling infringements against countries continuing to flout EU law but we need to see urgent action; we can´t wait any longer whilst operators’ legal rights continue to be compromised.”
The Commission issued a Reasoned Opinion against Greece in February 2008,(1) but since then the Commission has failed to enforce the rules against Member States that act in breach of the EU Treaty. According to the Commission, there are pending infringement cases against 9 Member States and a further 28 new complaints against 12 Member States per April 2012.(2) Commissioner Barnier has recently stated in public that he will pursue all pending infringement cases and investigate all new complaints against Member States.(3)
AG Mazák’s opinion is not binding but will be considered by the Court in its final ruling. The CJEU´s ruling is expected later this year.
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For further information or comment please contact:
Maarten Haijer: +32 2 554 08 90
The EGBA is an association of leading European gaming and betting operators Bet-at-home.com, BetClic, bwin.party, Digibet, Expekt, Interwetten, and Unibet. EGBA is a Brussels-based non-profit association. It promotes the right of private gaming and betting operators that are regulated and licensed in one Member State to a fair market access throughout the European Union. Online gaming and betting is a fast growing market, but will remain for the next decades a limited part of the overall European gaming market in which the traditional land-based offer is expected to grow from € 71.9 Billion GGR in 2010 to € 79 Billion GGR in 2015, thus keeping the lion’s share with 86% of the market. Source: H2 Gambling Capital, September 2011. www.egba.eu