A spokesman for the head of the European Commission, Charlie McCreevy, has discounted claims that the enforcement arm of the EU is under political pressure to go slow in its attempts to demolish national barriers to European gambling competition, Reuters reports.
The EC has investigations going on 10 of the 27 European Union member states, mainly concerned with state monopolies in gambling excluding competition from fellow member nations, and there have been claims that the
legal actions are being allowed to drag on for far too long.
The gaming industry had hoped that McCreevy would by now have taken Denmark and Sweden to the European Court of Justice but nothing has been announced this week.
“I am seriously concerned that what would appear to be political maneuverings are trying to slow down the Commission’s pace and kick the issue into the long grass,” John Whittaker, managing director of Stanleybet International told the news agency.
Denmark, Finland and Hungary received final warnings in March last year to change their laws, with France and Sweden three months later, he added.
An EU state is normally given two months to reply to a final warning or face the EU’s top court, which has powers to require that a country change its laws.
The Remote Gambling Association and the European Gaming and Betting Association, which between them count almost all of the major gambling groups as members, agreed that the actions were taking too long.
“Gambling has become a real test of the Commission’s ability to resist national protectionist pressures,” RGA CEO Clive Hawkswood said.
McCreevy’s spokesman acknowledged the gaming cases had taken a long time but emphasised that it was nevertheless a priority for McCreevy to bring them to court or drop them. The Commission’s next round of decisions on legal proceedings is in September.
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