Monday January 21, 2013 : RGA SETS OUT MEMBER POSITION IN LETTER TO GREEK GOVERNMENT
Legal measures being actively considered
In a letter written to the Greek President, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, the Remote Gambling Association has set out potential legal action that may be commenced should the Government not amend its proposed non-EU and Greek law compliant gambling regime.
The letter is the latest in industry dialogue with the Greek Government following its intention to provide exclusive online gambling rights, along with most other forms of gambling to OPAP, a direct contravention of existing European and Greek legalization says the Association.
Greece has recently imposed regulations that introduce enforcement measures against private sector operators catering to the Greek market which include ISP and payments blocking amongst others, with the express intention of protecting the new OPAP monopoly.
The RGA reminded the Greek State that it could be called on to compensate private sector online gambling companies for "losses suffered as a result of their unlawful exclusion from the market" after the government withdrew the planned licensing regime, compensation which potentially may run into tens of millions of Euros.
Legal measures that are actively being considered by the Association and its members include:
1. Petition in Greece against OPAP being granted an exclusive right to provide nearly all forms of online gambling.
2. Existing operators in the market have a right to bring actions before the Greek Courts against the Greek State’s new enforcement measures which breach both Greek and EU law.
3. A competition law complaint to the European Commission focusing on a potential market abuse which could arise from OPAP having been awarded a dominant position in the online sports betting market.
Clive Hawkswood, chief executive officer of the RGA said: “We want to work with the Greek Government to ensure that the new regime provides a regulated and competitive, domestic online gambling market that protects the consumer, is viable for the industry, delivers additional tax revenues, and is fully compliant with EU law.
"However, if the Greek Government and Gaming Commission continue without any legitimate justification to block major European private operators from the online market, then those operators will have no choice but to consider challenging them further in the courts.
"Members of the RGA expect all operators to be offered a level playing field across Europe. In Greece we have OPAP’s monopoly being protected and extended for a short term gain when in the long run the Greek people would benefit from additional choice and better value if the remote gambling market is opened up.”
The European Commission has been the recipient of an industry back lash “due to its lack of action against protectionist behaviour exhibited by member states such as Greece, Belgium and Bulgaria” said the association.