Across the European continent local governments have always acted aggressively when it comes to protecting their gambling monopolies and the tax revenue those monopolies generate. In theory, aggrieved operators have had the opportunity to take their complaints about these unfair trade practices to the European Commission in hopes of receiving some redress. With a recent ruling from the Commission’s ombudsman, however, that option seems to be closed off.

Late last week, the EU ombudsman ruled against European Betting and Gaming Association (EBGA) in its grievance claiming that the ombudsman wasn’t taking its issues seriously enough. In a shocking response the EU ombudsman agreed with the EBGA, but added that the group’s issues were simply, “not a priority.”

The ombudsman went on to say that online gambling infringement cases simply aren’t, “a priority,” for its office.

In their complaint, the EBGA relied on an argument that revolved around article 56 of the Treaty on the functioning of the EU (TFEU). That article states that, “…restrictions on “freedom to provide services” within the Union are prohibited in respect of nationals of Member States who are established in a State other than that of the person for whom the services are intended.” In short, it’s supposed to mean that European governments can’t obstruct trade barriers (usually through overly vigorous licensing restrictions) on out-of-country online gambling operators.

While article 56 looks good on paper, it’s very clear that ombudsman has no intention of enforcing it when it comes to online gambling.

In a statement to the media, the EGBA expressed its disappointment with the ruling and suggested that the EU was not at all interested in enforcing its own rules.

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