European Commission drops gambling infringement cases

European Commission

The European Commission has announced it will be dropping pending infringements involving countries breaching gambling laws.

In a shock to the European gambling industry, the Commission said it will only handle serious infringements from now on and close all outstanding complaints against European Union Member States with contradicting gambling regimes.

The Remote Gambling Association (RGA) has slammed the Commission for closing the cases which involve countries breaching EU laws due to their online gambling policies.

The RGA said the decision to close the cases is “highly questionable” and made without “any legal assessment”.

The RGA believes countries that banning or restricting online gambling are considered to not be in line with EU law, which is why the Commission opened the individual infringement cases in the first place.

As a result, the Commission said the countries “had at least a case to answer”, as they concern “serious cases of discrimination against online gambling companies that are legally based and licensed within the EU.”

It added the Commission is “ignoring the need for more enforcement effort” by dropping the cases.

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European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) Secretary General, Maarten Haijer, said the Commission’s choice is “unhelpful” when it comes to fighting “unregulated non-EU gambling services”.

“National courts will continue to be confronted with gambling cases and the CJEU will continue to rule on questions from national courts,” he said.

“This decision sends a signal that the Juncker Commission fails to appreciate the need to underpin its ambitious Digital Single Market programme with solid enforcement and guidance from the Commission itself, taking its role as guardian of the treaties seriously.”

RGA chief executive, Clive Hawkswood, also explained the infringement proceedings helped “with the introduction of many effective and sensible regulatory regimes for online gambling across Europe.”

“However, many other cases have been left to languish for several years and many unlawful restrictions to the free provisions of services have yet to be addressed,” he said.

“In those circumstances, we are of course dismayed that, with regard to the Internal Market, the Commission has effectively abandoned our sector and given a free pass to non-compliant regimes.

“However, we will continue to work with Member States with the aim of establishing EU-compliant regimes that would benefit European consumers, the online gambling industry, and national governments.”

The Commission said it would still support the Member States, where unfair restrictions are in place, to “modernise” their online gambling industries, while also promising to help cooperation between gambling regulators.

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