The European Commission presented today the Communication towards a comprehensive European framework for online gambling, infringement cases to be pursued.

Today the European Commission published the much-awaited Communication towards a comprehensive European framework for online gambling. This represents the second phase of what was started with the 2011 Green Paper on Online Gambling: first a consultation process to collect data and second to produce an assessment of the online sector in order to put forward a Communication that would propose a number of policies to tackle gambling-related issues. Stanleybet has welcomed this exercise as it brings facts and figures ensuring an informed debate at EU level. Stanleybet has always claimed that facts, and not myths, lead to sound and consistent policy-making.
However, much legal uncertainty still persists in the field of gambling legislation as the Commission has stepped back from its role as guardian of the Treaties and has left to the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) to clarify the law through referrals from national courts; something that even the Court itself seems to find inadequate. The European Commission can and must play a fundamental role in providing legal clarity by ensuring that the freedom of establishment and the freedom to provide services are not unlawfully breached by unjustified restrictions in national gambling legislations.

Konstantinos Maragkakis, Head of Communications for Stanleybet, pointed out that “There are still 9 infringement cases (Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Slovakia, Sweden [2 cases], The Netherlands) which remain pending, at various stages, since 2008, and despite the fact that around 28 complaints have been filed with the Commission regarding the freedom of establishment and the freedom to provide services in the gambling sector, the Commission is yet to enforce its role as guardian of the Treaties. Four years should be considered a significant amount of time in order for the Commission to obtain information from the competent national authorities and to assess the situation, therefore now is the time to act. We would like to see Commissioner Barnier taking action before his term ends by referring to the CJEU those cases of egregious violations EU law by national restrictions in the provision of sports betting services, with Greece or Sweden being primary examples.”

Konstantinos Maragkakis added: “Despite the recent momentum that the online distribution channel enjoys, the offline distribution channel will continue to represent the great majority of the sector amounting to more than 80. It is therefore sensible to tackle gambling issues as a whole and not just addressing only a small part of the sector. This Communication is a positive start, however the next step is to take into account gambling as a whole when assessing data and producing policies otherwise there is a risk that more problems will be added than solutions found.”
Stanleybet, being the principal party behind the landmark CJEU rulings of Gambelli (2003), Placanica (2007) and Costa & Cifone (2012), which upheld Stanleybet’s right to offer cross-border offline sports betting services, has always campaigned for regulated sports betting markets in compliance with EU law.