Remote gambling industry calls on European Commission to safeguard notifications

The Remote Gambling Association (RGA) and the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) have filed a complaint with the European Commission regarding the non-notification of regulations that will extend OPAP’s monopoly on online gambling and impose harsh enforcement measures while the compliance of the new law with EU law remains in question.

The EGBA and RGA, which between them represent the majority of the largest European remote gambling operators, are concerned that the Greek Government has failed to begin licensing online gambling operators. This was a central measure of the new gambling law passed in August 2011. Instead the Greek Government has decided to grant OPAP, the incumbent monopoly gambling operator for offline games, an extension of its licence for 10 more years from 2020 to 2030 and also to extend the monopoly to include online gambling. This process has shown a disdain for EU law and has been wholly non-transparent. The failure to notify the Commission under directive 98/34/EC reflects that.

The regulations introduce wide-ranging enforcement measures including ISP and payment blocking, fines on banks and internet providers who facilitate gambling and fines on operators who have not been granted a licence.

According to Sigrid Ligné, Secretary General of EGBA, “Commissioner Barnier recently confirmed that the he would take his responsibilities seriously in ensuring the compliance of Member States’ gambling legislation with EU law. We trust the Commissioner will urgently investigate our complaint and take action accordingly against Greece as well as on several other pending complaints.”

Clive Hawkswood, CEO of the RGA added: “When the Greek Government said it was going to license and regulate the domestic online gambling market we welcomed this as a positive step. However, instead of encouraging the development of a competitive and well-regulated market, the Greek Government and Gaming Commission are blocking major European private operators from it. We therefore look to the Commission, as guardian of the Treaties, to ensure that Greece follows the correct procedures and that the laws that it is seeking to introduce are fully compliant with EU law.”