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Stanleybet International welcomes Commission infringement proceedings

28 February 2008
by eub2 -- last modified 28 February 2008

Stanleybet International today welcomes the European Commission's decision to step up infringement proceedings against Greece and the Netherlands, thus showing its resolve to put an end to national restrictions which are unnecessary, non-proportionate and discriminatory.


The European Commission has today formally requested Greece and the Netherlands to amend their laws following an examination of their replies to Letters of Formal Notice. These formal requests take the form of "Reasoned Opinions", the second step in the infringement procedure. If there is no satisfactory reply within two months, the Commission may refer the matter to the European Court of Justice.

In the case of Greece, the Commission decided in June 2007 to verify whether national measures were compatible with Article 49 of the EC Treaty, which guarantees the free movement of services in their sports betting market. The European Commission reasserted today that a Member State cannot invoke restrictions to access to betting services if at the same time it encourages its citizens to participate in monopoly betting which benefits the state's coffers. Greece has privatized nearly two thirds of the shares of OPAP which operates the state monopoly license for sports betting and OPAP is now listed on the Athens Stock Exchange.

The Dutch case also deals with restrictions on sports betting services. In April 2006, the Commission sent a letter of formal notice to the Netherlands flagging their monopolistic restrictions in the provision of sports betting services - in contravention of Article 49 of the EU Treaty.

Principal party in the landmark Gambelli and Placanica European Court of Justice rulings, Stanleybet has taken the lead in the legal battle against betting restrictions that are incompatible with European Union law. Despite today's positive developments, Stanleybet International regrets that there remain a number of other Member States (Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Italy and Sweden) which have not taken any steps to rectify the incompatibility of the restrictions in their sports betting markets with the provisions of the EU Treaty despite being the focus of European Commission investigations. France is also at Reasoned Opinion level but has yet to come up with a concrete and credible proposal to comply with EU law.

John Whittaker, Managing Director of Stanleybet International said: "Today's decision is another blow to Member States who do not wish to play their part. When countries have no willingness to cooperate, what other choice has the Commission other than the infringement procedure? Today, Greece and the Netherlands have been warned but what about the others? It has been a year for instance since Denmark, Hungary, Finland have been at Reasoned Opinion level; no change has been made in their restrictive legislation but the Commission is yet to take them to the European Court of Justice. We would encourage the Commission to remain vigorous in the fulfillment of its role".     

Greece and the Netherlands have now until the end of April 2008 to reply to the enquiries of the European Commission.

Established in 1997, Stanleybet International is licensed in the UK. Stanleybet International grew its business via a ground-breaking cross-border business model whose compatibility with European law has been endorsed in both the Gambelli and Placanica rulings from the European Court of Justice. Stanleybet International is now the leading cross-border retail sports betting company in Europe with the majority of its intermediaries being in Cyprus, Germany and Italy, as well as locally-licensed outlets in Belgium, Croatia, and Romania making a total of over 1000 outlets.

Stanleybet International