Wednesday November 20 ,2013 : EC LAUNCH FORMAL INFRINGEMENT ACTION AGAINST MEMBER STATES
Long awaited action gains momentum
The European Commission has launched formal infringement proceedings against the online gambling legalization of six Member States and two reasoned opinions against Sweden for failing to comply with EU Law.
Formal letters of notice were sent to Belgium, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Poland and Romania by the European Commission requesting information on national legalization restricting the supply of certain gambling services.
The Commission seeks to verify whether measures are compatible with Article 56 TFEU, which guarantees the free movement of services, and has asked a number of questions in relation to the licensing procedure and conditions for the provision of gambling services, a statement said.
Sweden was requested to bring its legalization in line with EU law rules by the EC in two formal requests. The country has an eight week deadline to reply to the Commission.
According to the Commission, these are the first in a series of decisions on outstanding complaints and pending infringement cases against over 20 Member States.
Cases against France, Germany, Greece, Hungary and the Netherlands remain under investigation while others were closed.
Maarten Haijer, Secretary General of the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) said: “Today’s decision by the Commission is highly significant as it will bring further legal clarity to the online gambling market in the EU.
“We commend Commissioner Barnier and his services for their perseverance and commitment to making sure gambling regulation functions properly. EGBA urges Member States to use this opportunity to put in place effective, commercially viable gambling legalization which takes into account the CJEU requirements and to avoid the need for litigation at the Court of Justice.”
The Remote Gambling Association (RGA) expressed its disappointment that "no countries have so far been referred to the Court of Justice of the EU when existing infringement proceedings appeared to be sufficiently advanced and substantiated to do that."
“The announcement is a step in the right direction for an online gambling industry that has suffered for too long from legal uncertainty and unjustified market closures," said Clive Hawkswood, chief executive officer of the RGA.
"Although we are fully aware that, under certain conditions, market restrictions can be deemed lawful and justified, we are entitled to the free provision of services and due regard must be given to those rights. We once again look to the Commission, as guardian of the Treaties, to enforce those provisions and we expect that those countries subject to a proceeding will introduce the required changes as soon as possible."
The full European Commission release can be viewed at: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-13-1101_en.htm