End of the OPAP's and De Lotto's gambling monopolies in sight ?

The European Commission's decision to push forward in its investigation into breaches of the EU Treaty by the Dutch and Greek governments has been applauded by the Remote Gaming Association, a trade body for major online gambling companies in Europe. The Reasoned Opinion published by the Commission (see previous InfoPowa reports) focuses on the protectionist and state monopolistic policies of the two governments regarding online gambling, which interferes with the free passage of goods and services between EU member nations.

In a statement this week the RGA said that Greece and its gambling monopoly OPAP, and the Dutch De Lotto monopoly were at the centre of the allegations.

"Both of these EU Member States will now be investigated by the European Commission to determine whether their national gambling laws are in contravention of the European Treaty," the Association informed.

"In particular, the Commission will need to be assured that restrictions which are being placed on the freedom of gambling operators in other EU states to provide their services in the Netherlands and Greece are justifiable under EU law and are not there primarily to defend the position of domestic gambling companies or state operators."

"In the face of sometimes very strong opposition, it does the Commission great credit that it continues to fulfill its role as guardian of the Treaty in such a robust and objective way," commented RGA CEO Clive Hawkswood. "Coming on the heels of its decision in January to take similar action against Germany and Sweden, this should send a strong signal across Europe that protectionism in the gambling sector will not be tolerated.

"The Dutch government has even tried to carve out an online gambling monopoly for Holland Casino, but this Opinion should serve notice that such actions are not acceptable."

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