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Legitimacy of the OPAP monopoly challenged

February 16, 2009 2009

The legitimacy of the OPAP monopoly has been challenged. The two Reporting Judges of the Greek Council of State recommended that the Greek betting monopoly, OPAP S.A. should be referred to the European Court of Justice.

In cases presented by two British sports betting operators, Stanleybet International and William Hill, the Reporting Judges questioned the legitimacy of the OPAP monopoly. For the first time in Greece, the Reporting Judges of its Highest Administrative Court, the Greek Council of State, have declared the monopoly in Greek sports-betting granted to a private entity, OPAP, as noncompliant with EU law.

The Reporting Judges stated that the legitimate right under EU law for licence applications to be made by Stanleybet International and William Hill had not been upheld by the Greek authorities who had refused to consider the operators’ requests for licences. The Reporting Judges went on to state that the monopolistic position granted to OPAP S.A. is not proportionate, justified, nor consistent with EU law.

Clive Hawkswood, chief executive of the RGA, said the references to the ECJ from various national courts are becoming endemic across the EU and they all raise one common issue: Are restrictive national gambling legislations of EU Member States consistent with the EU Treaty?

“We believe that the vast majority of them are not and it is disappointing that the European Commission, as the designated guardian of the EU Treaty, has remained so silent on these fundamental points for the last 12 months,” said Hawkswood.


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