|The European Commission is expected to step up legal action against the Netherlands and Greece this week over competition restrictions in their gaming markets.|
The action for restrictions in the sportsbetting services sector is expected to be in the form of a final warning with the possibility of taking the two countries to the European Union’s top court, the European Court of Justice.
The Union’s Internal Markets Commissioner, Charlie McCreevy, met with members of the Commission yesterday and stated that any decision on what course of action to take would be announced later today. The Irishman is already overseeing legal action against ten of the bloc’s 27 member states in order to break down national hurdles to competition from gaming firms based elsewhere in the federation.
The European Court of Justice ruled in the past that member states could restrict gaming but only in a proportionate and non-discriminatory way. However, Greek gaming company OPAP is an effective monopoly in the country but competes with other operators in Cyprus.
'This is not really an immediate problem for OPAP,' said one anonymous Athens-based analyst.
“Greece has said it is arguing for OPAP to be exempt from competition and it will take a couple of years for a final decision to be taken by the European Union in any case.'