EU threatens gambling action

The European Commission is set for a legal wrangle with France, Sweden and Greece as it orders them to finish their state-run gambling monopolies.

France and Sweden have been given a warning, while Greece will receive its first warning in the form of a "letter of formal notice" which it must respond to within two months.

The European Commission have deemed the restrictions on gambling competition in France and Sweden as unjustified; that is, they have not put in place measures to protect gambling addiction. Charlie McCreevy, Internal Markets Commissioner for the European Commission, has pointed out that French gambling companies advertise for business.

"A member state cannot invoke the need to restrict its citizens’ access to betting services if at the same time it incites and encourages them to participate in state lotteries, games of chance or betting which benefits the State’s finances,”"said Mr McCreevy.

However, France will attempt to be unwavering in their determination to keep their existing policies in place.

"France will not lie down," said a spokesman for the French Finance Ministry.

If both countries fail to change their laws, they will be taken to the European Court of Justice where they could face hefty fines and be forced to change their laws.

The moves by the Commission have been warmly welcomed by many gambling operators seeking to expand their business in the European Union.

“The EU Commission is showing strong resolve on this issue and we urge them to continue to enforce the EU Treaty,” said Ladbrokes E-gaming managing director John O’Reilly.

Unibet, the Swedish-based gambling company whose team was barred from this year’s Tour de France because they did not have a French gambling licence (giving them the right to advertise) see the Commission’s moves as leading to an open and fair gambling market.

“We see today’s final warning from the Commission as an important step towards a new, modern gambling market,” said Unibet chief executive Peter Nylander.

Editor, - 2007-06-28 11:41:57

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