This week, the Remote Gambling Association sent a letter to the Greek President, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, in which it cautions them about a potential legal action that may be initiated if the Government does not amend its proposed non-EU and Greek law compliant gambling regime.
In the note, the Association says that the Greek Government’s intention to provide exclusive online gambling rights, along with most other forms of gambling to OPAP, represents a direct contravention of existing European and Greek legislation.
In relation to this, the RGA said that the Greek State could be called on to compensate private sector online gambling companies for "losses suffered as a result of their unlawful exclusion from the market" after the government withdrew the planned licensing regime, compensation which potentially may run into tens of millions of Euros.
Specifying its potential legal measures, the Association said that they include a petition in Greece against OPAP being granted an exclusive right to provide nearly all forms of online gambling, and actions that existing operators in the market have a right to initiate in the Greek Courts against the State’s new enforcement measures. There’s also the mentioning of a competition law complaint to the European Commission focusing on a potential market abuse which could arise from OPAP having been awarded a monopolistic position in the online sports betting market.
According to the RGA CEO, Clive Hawkswood, “We want to work with the Greek Government to ensure that the new regime provides a regulated and competitive, domestic online gambling market that protects the consumer, is viable for the industry, delivers additional tax revenues, and is fully compliant with EU law.
"However, if the Greek Government and Gaming Commission continue without any legitimate justification to block major European private operators from the online market, then those operators will have no choice but to consider challenging them further in the courts.
"Members of the RGA expect all operators to be offered a level playing field across Europe. In Greece we have OPAP’s monopoly being protected and extended for a short term gain when in the long run the Greek people would benefit from additional choice and better value if the remote gambling market is opened up.”
Furthermore, the Association noted that the European Commission has been the recipient of an industry back lash “due to its lack of action against protectionist behaviour exhibited by member states such as Greece, Belgium and Bulgaria”.