EU takes issue with Greek, Dutch gaming monopolies

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Both Dutch and Greek state-run gaming monopolies are being questioned by the European Union.

The European Commission, which is the executive branch of the EU, has decided to pursue infringement proceedings against the Netherlands and Greece and to formally request them to remove gaming restrictions which were found inconsistent with EU law, according to a story with the European Gaming & Betting Association.

It is a move that is already being applauded by the EGBA.

"Totay's reasoned opinions send a clear signal that national gaming legislation, which does not serve any genuine consumer protection or public order interest, has no futures," said Sigrid Ligné, secretary general of the EGBA. "Leading European online operators are now calling on Greece and the Netherlands to implement sustainable reforms that will guarantee [...] fair, open and regulated market access."

Earlier this year the Dutch government announced plans to issue a three-year exclusive online gaming license to state operator Holland Casino and to force financial institutions to refuse payment transactions to/from EU-licensed online gaming and betting operators. The end result would be somewhat similar to the United States' Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act, albeit with a state-run monopoly.

"These latest developments make the Commission's reasoned opinion even more relevant and highlight the need for market protectionist measures to end," Ligné said.

With regard to Greece, the EC is targeting the gaming monopoly granted to OPAP, a publicly listed company which has over the years continued to maximize its profits and expanded beyond Greek borders while denying EU operators access to the Greek market.

"These particular features of the Greek gaming monopoly and the clear discriminations [sic] against EU regulated competitors, left the Commission with no choice but to ensure the respect of basic EU market principles," said Ligné.

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