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Online gaming and betting: Greek draft law draws criticism from the European Commission

Date

07 Jul 2011

Sections

Sports

The European Commission issued a detailed opinion against the Greek draft law on online gambling on 7 July 2011 (see link). This detailed opinion confirms that the Commission has strong concerns about the compatibility of the draft Greek legislation with EU law.

EGBA has identified a number of provisions which are highly doubtful under EU law. These include:

  •     The requirement for EU licensed online gaming companies to be established in Greece
  •     The requirement to have a bank guarantee from a bank established in Greece
  •     Limiting the number of available licenses
  •     Opening the tendering procedure only to capital companies with a minimum paid-up capital
  •     Limiting financial transfers via local banks or local branches of international banks only

According to Sigrid Ligné, Secretary General of EGBA, “We share the Commission’s assessment of the Greek draft regulation. The requirements in the current draft are highly questionable under EU law, and this begs the question as to how viable the future market will be for EU licensed operators”.

The reform of the Greek online gambling market, which comes amidst the Greek financial crisis, still contains a great deal of practical, technical and legal uncertainties. For instance, the current draft is still not clear about the types of games that may be offered by EU licensed operators.

“We call on the Greek authorities to amend their draft legislation and clarify these crucial points” added Sigrid Ligné.

The Greek draft online gambling regulation was notified to the European Commission and Member States on 5 April 2011 and also received a detailed opinion from Malta. Today’s detailed opinions extend the standstill period until 8 August 2011, during which Greece cannot adopt its draft regulation. Greece is required to reply to the Commission’s views. If it fails to take into account the Commission’s objections, the Commission could decide to launch infringement proceedings.

For further information or comment please contact:
Sigrid Ligné: +32 2 554 08 90
Sigrid.Ligne@egba.eu


About EGBA

The EGBA is an association of leading European gaming and betting operators Bet-at-home.com, BetClic, bwinparty, 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 € 79.6 Billion GGR in 2009 to € 83 Billion GGR in 2012, thus keeping the lion’s share with 87% of the market. Source: H2 Gambling Capital, April 2010

The Notification Procedure

Under Directive 98/34/EC, Member States must notify to the European Commission and other Member States draft regulations regarding products and Information Society services such as online gaming and betting, before adopting them. This procedure is aimed at preventing Member States from creating new barriers to the internal market freedoms by giving the opportunity to the Commission and Member States to evaluate the content of a draft law before it is adopted.

The notification of a text to the Commission opens a three month standstill period during which the draft text must not be adopted. This period allows the Commission and Member States to ascertain whether the draft text presents any unjustified barriers to the internal market. The Commission and/or Member States may then issue:

  •     a detailed opinion, if they consider that the draft text would, if implemented, create barriers to trade, services or establishment within the EU;
  •     comments, if they consider that the text raises issues of interpretation or requires further details; or
  •     no response, if they consider that the text is compatible with EU law.

A detailed opinion attempts to prevent Members States from adopting a text, which contains barriers to the internal market, or to urge them to remove the restrictive provisions, thereby avoiding unnecessary legislative work and future EU infringement proceedings.

Once a detailed opinion had been issued, the standstill period, during which the draft text must not be adopted, is extended by one month. If, after this time, the draft text is adopted without modification, the Commission can immediately commence an infringement procedure against the Member State’s newly adopted legislation.

To access the TRIS database and search for other draft laws see:
http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/tris/pisa/app/search/index.cfm?lang=EN

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