The EGBA has won its case at the Court of Justice of the European Union.
Luxembourg.- The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) has won its appeal against the European Commission (EC) regarding its call for an investigation of how the Netherlands awards lottery licences. The EGBA had taken the case to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) after the EC rejected calls for an investigation in 2020.
The industry group initially made a complaint in 2016, arguing that the Netherlands was granting its incumbent lottery operators illegal financial advantages. However, the EC ruled that a probe was unnecessary because the Dutch licensing process did not constitute illegal state aid.
The EGBA appealed to the CJEU, claiming that the renewal of lottery licences without a transparent allocation process constitutes illegal state aid. It also claimed that a refusal to investigate the case breached its own rights under EU law. The CJEU agreed that an infringement of rights had occurred and ruled that the EC had made no investigation to probe whether any parties gained an unfair advantage
The EC must now conduct a formal state aid investigation and must pay the costs of the EGBA’s appeal.
EGBA secretary general Maarten Haijer said: “The facts and data of this case raised serious doubts about the compliance of the Dutch licensing procedure with EU law. This should have warranted the Commission to open a formal state aid investigation to address those doubts.
“We are confident the Commission will now carry out a thorough investigation. We are ready to provide any necessary information and data. It is crucial for the Commission to uphold EU law consistently across all sectors, without fear or favour, including the gambling sector. The selective enforcement of EU law undermines the Commission’s institutional role as the guardian of the Treaties.”
EGBA welcomes Finnish proposal for regulated gambling
Meanwhile, the EGBA has welcomed the proposed legislative project to liberalise gambling in Finland. The Ministry of the Interior has set the train in motion to end the monopoly of state gambling operator Veikkaus and launched a licensing system in the country.
Finland has said that the move is intended to improve channelisation due to the number of players who choose to gamble with unlicensed offshore operators. Veikkaus has announced that it expects to lay off around 185-215 of its 825 staff. The operator will close Casino Tampere on December 9.