|The European Commission has taken steps to prise open the sportsbetting markets of France, Sweden and Greece as part of a quarterly crackdown on European Union rule breakers.|
The Commission adopted 955 legal actions spanning telecommunications, energy, gambling, the environment and the financial sector and also instructed Portugal and Poland to scrap special voting rights in companies, which it stated hindered the free movement of capital.
'While important improvements have been made in recent years, too many member states persistently infringe Community law and that is why we are determined to act,” said Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the Commission.
The European Union's executive arm stated that the curbs on gambling competition in France and Sweden have not been shown to be necessary, proportionate and non-discriminatory and it said that this would be its final warning before the cases move to the European Court of Justice, which can fine states and force them to change their laws.
“Furthermore, in the Commission's view, existing national operators cannot be regarded as non-profit organisations, given that they are subject to strict annual revenue targets and often rely on commercial retail outlets to market their various gambling services,' said Barroso.
Sportsbetting and gambling is a state-owned monopoly in many EU countries and generates large revenues for government coffers by thwarting attempts by private-sector rivals to get a piece of the multi-billion-Euro business.
In addition, Brussels gave Greece two months to respond to a Letter of Formal Notice, the first step in the Union's infringement procedure against countries that break the bloc's laws, and reminded Greece of its obligation to lift a total ban on gaming machines, including computer games.