Stanleybet welcomes this development and hopes the Commission will pursue all pending infringement cases rigorously.
Stanleybet welcomes the European Commission decision announced yesterday to open infringement cases against 7 Member States- Belgium, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Sweden – deemed to be in breach of EU law. This is a positive development as it exhibits that the European Commission is taking action as Guardian of the Treaties even with some delay. This will be significant only if these cases are pursued rigorously, within a reasonable amount of time and produce significant outcomes.
Stanleybet in particular welcomes the Commission announcement of a Letter of Formal Notice sent to the Republic of Cyprus related to unjustified requirements of establishment for online operators. The Commission however continues to ignore the very inconsistent state of the Cyprus offline sports betting market in which OPAP SA – via its 100 owned subsidiaries – has enjoyed privileges arising from the old Inter-Governmental Agreement giving them a strong competitive advantage in clear contravention of EU law and the acquis. Specifically, OPAP offers its sport betting services in Cyprus via outlets that also offer privileged monopoly products like KENO and Lotto, whilst all other sports betting operators are restricted to sports betting alone. In the long run this creates an untenable competitive situation for licensed operators like Stanleybet. Whilst we welcome the fact that the Commission has probably taken heed of the issue of establishment, we hope the Cypriot authorities will rectify the situation and ensure a level playing field for all sports betting operators.
Stanleybet regrets that the Commission seems to have taken little action on other pending infringement cases which since 2008 remain at Reasoned Opinion level in spite of constant contempt of the fundamental aims of the EU. A clear case in point is that of Greece: despite a preliminary CJEU ruling (C-186/11 and C-209/11) that highlights the inconsistency of the Greek legal framework and a monopoly awarded to a privately owned and operated company, OPAP SA, Greece has now amended its legislation in a manner even more inconsistent with EU law by expanding OPAP SA’s monopoly online as well the Commission is yet to act.
While Stanleybet hopes that this will be remedied soon and before the current Commission’s term is over, the Commission seems to regard some Member States – like Greece, France and Italy – as untouchable and instead concentrates on minor technically errant Member States.
“We are very much pleased that finally, after years of inactivity, some steps have been taken against some Member States whose gambling legislation is not compliant with EU law. However, we hope that this time the Commission will be even more rigorous in its actions and will not take years while the situation on the ground remains detrimental to private operators and we call for the Commission to resolve all the existing cases no matter which Member State is involved” commented Adrian Morris, Deputy Managing Director of Stanleybet.