22 March 2007

EBA supports European Commission decision

The European Commission issued Reasoned Opinions against three Member States (Denmark, Finland, and Hungary) and has decided to extend its investigation in the legislation of Germany and of The Netherlands. None of them have shown any indication or willingness to reconsider their monopolistic restrictions.

These cases are the next step to the Letters of Formal Notice issued on 4th April 2006 against seven Member States (Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, and Sweden) for restrictions in their legislation in the provision of sports betting services in contradiction to Article 49 of the EU Treaty (freedom to provide services) and European Court of Justice (ECJ) case law that fundamentally establishes sports betting as a cross-border service.

It is no surprise that the replies which these Member States have given were deemed inadequate by the European Commission. None of them have shown any indication or willingness to reconsider their monopolistic restrictions or to engage in a process of constructive dialogue with other stakeholders. On the contrary, some of these Member States have introduced even more restrictive legislation against private European licensed operators while at the same time allowing for their state-owned or state controlled operators to expand and advertise their products and services.

ECJ case law, and most recently the Placanica ruling of 6th March 2007 [Case C-338/04], imposes strict limitations for the existence of monopolies and restrictions in national gambling legislation. Such restrictions are only acceptable for reasons of general public interest, however most national legislations allow state-run companies to raise revenue by product expansion and massive advertising campaigns, but forbid competition. These laws and practices cannot be reconciled with the strict EU legal requirements. The European Commission appears to have serious doubts as well, as demonstrated by the decision taken today.

press release European Betting Association

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