Open and Shut Case (Update)
February 16, 2009 (InfoPowa News) — Stanleybet's Athens staff can be forgiven for finding the antics of local law enforcement bemusing — first the authorities, acting on a complaint by the state-supported OPAP monopoly, closed down the shop and detained employees. Then the courts seemed confused and the "suspects" were released and the shop re-opened. But in the latest news from the Greek capital it appears that the shop has again been shuttered.
The problem is rooted in uncertainty in Greek courts about the validity of running a gambling monopoly in conflict with European Union principles of free movement of goods and services between member states. Along with nine other EU members, the Greeks have been warned by the European Commission regarding the unacceptability of excluding companies from other EU nations from the national gambling market, a course that ultimately could see them hauled before the European Court of Justice.
Last week the Greek Council of State — the highest administrative court in the nation — reviewed the issue at the request of major EU gambling groups affected by the issue and excluded from obtaining Greek licenses. The Council of State recommended that OPAP’s monopoly be referred to the European Court of Justice and opined that the state’s refusal to allow EU-licensed sports betting operators to do business in the country conflicts with EU law.