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Online gaming and betting: Romanian draft triggers European Commission’s objections

Date

05 Oct 2010

Sections

Sports

Brussels, 5 October 2010

The European Commission issued a detailed opinion against the Romanian draft legislation regulating online gaming and betting (see here). Such detailed opinion implies that the Commission has strong doubts about the compatibility of the draft legislation with EU law and means Romania cannot adopt its draft in its current shape.

“EGBA welcomes the Romanian government’s willingness to reform its online gaming and betting market. However, EGBA notes that Romania is the third country in the last 12 months to receive a detailed opinion from the European Commission and will have as in the case of Denmark and Poland to re-notify and adjust its draft legislation.” said Sigrid Ligné, Secretary General of EGBA.

After analyzing the draft legislation, EGBA has identified a number of provisions in the draft which are highly doubtful under EU law. This includes:

    * the discriminatory prohibition of marketing and advertising activities for EU licensed companies which are not authorized in Romania

    * the requirement for EU licensed online betting companies to have their servers in Romania

    * the requirement for EU licensed online companies to be established in Romania

    * the unjustified exclusion of online pool betting while all other forms of online gambling would be allowed.

“While we support Romania’s legitimate wish to regulate its online gaming market, it is important from a consumer protection perspective that national gambling policies are consistent. As confirmed by the ECJ in its recent rulings, there are less restrictive means than forced establishment to monitor and control the online gaming and betting market” added Sigrid Ligné from the EGBA.

The Romanian draft legislation was notified to the European Commission and Member States on 2 July 2010. Today’s detailed opinion extends the standstill period until 3 November, during which time Romania cannot adopt its draft legislation. Romania is required to reply to the Commission’s views. If Romania 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, bwin, Digibet, Expekt, Interwetten, PartyGaming 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 € 70.5 Billion GGR in 2009 to € 76.5 Billion GGR in 2012, thus keeping the lion’s share with 86.2% of the market. Source: H2 Gambling Capital, January 2010.
www.egba.eu

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. On 31 January 2008, the Commission launched an infringement procedure against Germany after it failed to respect the detailed opinion issued against it in March 2007:
Link to Commission press release.

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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