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FAVOURABLE EUROPEAN COURT OF JUSTICE RULING

02/16/2012 : FAVOURABLE EUROPEAN COURT OF JUSTICE RULING (Update)
 
Regulated gambling markets have an obligation to ensure full transparency, legal certainty and equal treatment.
 
The European Court of Justice has again ruled that national regulators must not discriminate against foreign companies trying to enter their markets from other EU nations, warning that it is against EU law for national legislation to seek to protect the market position of incumbents.
 
In an important preliminary ruling Thursday in the joint cases Costa and Cifone on access to Italian gambling licenses by European operators, the court confirmed that Member States of the EU cannot protect vested economic interests and thereby discriminate against new operators under the guise of consumer protection or fraud prevention.
 
In particular, the Court ruled that a national restriction is justifiable only if it does “not have as a true objective the protection of the market positions of the existing operators”.
 
“The very fact that existing operators have been able to start up several years earlier than the operators unlawfully excluded confers on them an unfair competitive advantage [which] constitutes a new breach of Articles 43 EC and 49 EC and of the principle of equal treatment,” the court found.
 
"The objective of ensuring continuity, financial stability or a proper return on past investments for operators cannot be accepted as overriding reasons in the public interest" it added, also noting that in cases where nations justify restrictions on grounds of reducing gaming opportunities and combating criminality this cannot stand where the Member States "has long been marked by a policy of expanding activity with the aim of increasing tax revenue."
 
In a blow for Italian regulators, the court found that the Italian gambling legislation, in the manner in which it regulates the gambling market, is not consistent with the claimed objectives of protecting consumers from gambling addiction and limiting gambling activity in Italy.
 
The court pointed out that the aim of the Italian legislation is to protect incumbents and increase tax revenues. Such objectives cannot serve to justify violations of EU law.
 
Sigrid Ligné, Secretary General of the European Gaming and Betting Association commented on today’s ruling: “This very positive ruling confirms that national legislation that opens up and regulates the gambling market may not discriminate against new operators but must guarantee fair market access. 
 
“The Court has made particularly clear the ‘red lines’ that Member States must observe when they regulate gambling; it is high time for the European Commission to enforce the consistent case law of the CJEU and pursue complaints and infringements procedures accordingly ”
 
Executives at Stanleybet were jubilant over the ruling, which the company claims recognises for the third time that Stanleybet was discriminated against by the Italian licensing system.
 
David Purvis, CEO of Stanleybet, said: “Stanleybet has received from the CJEU a definitive recognition of its right to enter the Italian market under conditions of equality and fairness vis-a-vis the other national operators.
 
“This ruling confirms once again that Stanleybet was discriminated against by the Italian Republic. After twelve years of legal battles, this third CJEU ruling must surely put an end to the unlawful distortions, the discrimination and the unjust limitations of the Italian licensing system.
 
"The European Commission must also take heed from this following its 2010 decision to close the Italian infringement proceedings. The decision of the CJEU indicates that this closure was premature. I hope this is a lesson to be learned and from now on the Commission will not allow political considerations to overtake EU law in other jurisdictions such as France, Greece and Germany”, David Purvis concluded.

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Interwetten 2016 Earnings Results - Privately-owned online sports betting operator Interwetten delivered robust full year results for the 2016 fiscal period, in which the company has almost achieved doubling its revenues over the past four years, success it attributes to its in-house developed platform

EU Online Gambling Tax Harmoney Dead - Tax expert says European Court of Justice Attorney General's opinion on UK-Gibraltar litigation signals that EU courts are happy for individual member states to impose their own laws on online gambling.

Jack Lam Facing Big Fines in the Philippines - It's going to be costly for Macau online gambling and junket tycoon Jack Lam to return to the Philippines following his rather hurried departure last year with allegations of economic sabotage, bribery and tax evasion swirling around him.

Walter Merricks Term As Gambing Commissioner Extended - The UK Government has extended Walter Merricks’ term as Commissioner of the Gambling Commission for a further year, ending December 31, 2017.

Loot’enKhamun Pays $3.8 Million Jackpot - A London-based construction worker’s year got off to a great start when he hit the Loot’enKhamun jackpot at bwin casino.

PlaySugarHouse To Carry Konami Content - Content provider Konami will provide its Gypsy Fire and Fortune Stacks slot games to Rush Street Interactive-operated PlaySugarHouse.com on an exclusive basis in the New Jersey real-money online and mobile wagering market.

ITF TERMINATES BETWAY SPONSORSHIP DEAL - The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has reportedly terminated Betway’s three-year sponsorship partnership as an extension to their anti-match fixing and sports integrity policy.

GSA To Launch European division - The expansion enables the GSA to better focus on the regional needs of its members outside of North America and underscores its recognition and commitment to growing European membership.

Paddy Power Trading Update - Company prevails despite adverse sports and US election results; Trump success cost the group GBP 5 million, whilst punter successes took another GBP 40 million in Q4-2016.

Tabcorp SunBets project - The details were revealed this week in an IT News article quoting Tabcorp's chief information officer, Kim Wenn, who described the SunBets project as Tabcorp's biggest global venture yet.

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