Following the recent publication by the Greek government of a range of enforcement measures which are designed to close the Greek online gambling market to competition and protect the position of OPAP, the incumbent monopoly operator, the RGA has announced that it will seek to legal avenues if necessary at both EU and Greek national levels to challenge their imposition.
Last week the Greek Government published a range of anti-online gambling regulations which include fines and other sanctions on Operators, Internet Service Providers, Media companies, Payment/Credit Institutions and even the consumers themselves.
The new regulations come into effect on 5th December 2012 and the RGA is aware that some Operators have already received “cease and desist” letters from the Greek Gambling Commission.
These regulations were passed pursuant to Law 4002 of 2011, which purported to open a new licensing regime for online gambling operators but that process has not even begun.
The RGA has existing formal complaints with the EU about the Greek law and has been consulting with lawyers in both Athens and Brussels with a view to further complaints about the most recent enforcement regulations which are clearly protectionist in nature, contrary to EU law and unworkable.
Clive Hawkswood, Chief Executive of the RGA, said:
‘These measures have clearly been introduced in haste and we cannot believe that they have been approved by the European Commission. They are blatantly protectionist in nature and if EU Internal Market rules mean anything then the European Commission must take prompt action to make Greece reconsider.
However, for obvious reasons, we are also looking at potential action in the Greek courts.
Whether it is raised in Brussels or Athens, nobody could fail to note coincidence that these measures have been rushed through with a ridiculously short deadline at a time when the Greek Government is actively looking to sell its share in OPAP, which currently has a monopoly in exactly the markets where our members would inevitably compete directly with it.’