Seven countries face legal threat on betting markets

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Seven countries face legal threat on betting markets
By Tobias Buck in Brussels
Published: April 5 2006 03:00 | Last updated: April 5 2006 03:00

Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and four other European Union countries must open their markets to sports betting companies from abroad or face legal action from Brussels, the European Commission said yesterday.

The seven countries are coming under attack because of the restrictions they place on betting services from other EU member states.

For example, some countries demand that companies acquire a licence even though they are already licensed in another member state, while others ban betting companies from advertising or sponsoring sports teams.

The Commission has now sent letters of formal notice to Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Hungary - the first step towards launching a legal challenge at the European Court of Justice for violating EU law.

The move against the seven governments has sparked controversy both outside and inside the Commission. Some commissioners are understood to have argued against opening infringement procedures, pointing out that gambling can have adverse social effects and is therefore rightly placed under tight restrictions in some member states.

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