UK betting group Stanleybet International wants fair, open and equal access to all European Community gambling markets for companies domiciled in EU member nations, and to this end has launched a Fair Play For Sports Betting campaign.
The campaign director, Adrian Morris, fired the first broadside with an open letter addressed to the European Commission appealing for a more equitable approach and access to EU markets. It goes on to call on EC president Jose Manuel Barosso to put an end to further delay caused by political manoeuvring, and to enforce the principles of EU laws regarding the free movement of goods and services between EU member nations.
The non-compliance with EU law of several states is highlighted in Morris's letter, which refers to the 2003 Gambelli case in the European Court of Justice where the right of a sports betting operator legally established in one member state to provide those services in another was recognised. The Gambelli ruling was widely seen as the first step towards a level playing field for both state-owned or controlled and private sports betting operators.
“Member states continued to act in an unfair, disproportionate and politically motivated way and to deny their citizens access to competitive betting services”, wrote Morris. “Rather than following European law, they are seeking to opt out of it. The European Commission, as the defender of the EU Treaty, has not only the legal right to intervene, but, more importantly, the duty to do so,” he added.
Stanleybet recently opened two betting shops in Greece and has been threatened with legal action by the OPAP state monopoly.