Greek Administrative Court Recommends that Monopoly Issue Be Referred to E.C.J.
February 9, 2009 (InfoPowa News) — The highest administrative court in Greece has recommended that legal issues surrounding the monopolistic nature of the state-licensed gambling company OPAP should be referred to the European Court of Justice for resolution. The move suggests that the court acknowledges the possible non-compliance of Greek gambling laws with supervening European Union law, reports eGaming Review this week.
Supported by the state, OPAP has excluded foreign gambling firms from entering the Greek betting market, bringing into question the country's compliance with EU principles of free and open trade and services between member nations.
The court's recommendation has its roots in a case against the state-sanctioned monopoly which was launched by Stanleybet International last year following police raids and arrests on that company's betting outlets in Greece (see previous InfoPowa reports). Those detained were released, apparently without further action, a few days later, suggesting that the illegality of their position was in doubt.
eGR reports that the Greek judges also made it clear that OPAP's monopoly, a private entity since 2000 and physically established and offering its gambling services in another EU member state, could not be attributed to a genuine interest to reduce gambling opportunities and to protect the public.
John Whittaker, the managing director of Stanleybet International, applauded the judges' recommendation and said: “The opinion issued today clearly shows that the Greek Authorities have discriminated against our company by acting in clear violation of the EU Treaty. What further evidence does the [European] Commission need to bring Greece before the European Court of Justice?"