"Take Danske Spil to ECJ" says politician


RIP Brian
Feb 22, 2001

Four years of delay is enough, ex-Danish MP urges European Commission

Freddy Blak, a Danish Member of Parliament from 1989 to 2004, is fed up with the delays in putting an end to the Danske Spil state gambling monopoly in Denmark...and he's doing something about it.

This week, the MP wrote an open letter to European Union compliance commissioner, Charlie McCreevy urging him to immediately haul Denmark before the European Court of Justice.

In his letter, Blak draws the attention to several key points:

1) It is now four years since the European Commission instituted an infringement procedure against the Danish gambling monopoly.

2) The clear cut case against Denmark has now been delayed and in limbo for too long, making it the longest running case of all European Union countries.

3) Despite the passage of those four years, the Danish state gambling monopoly Danske Spil continues to violate Article 43 (freedom of establishment) and Article 49 (free movement of services) of the EC Treaty.

Blak notes that many foreign providers of sportsbetting have been "discriminated against and ridiculed in Denmark over the past six months."

He also points to the activities of the Danish Gambling Authority which disadvantaged European online gambling group Unibet in the Post Danmark Rundt cycle tour and other inequities, and comments on the hypocrisy of the government stance on problem gambling whilst marketing Danske Spil gaming extensively.

In closing the former politician refers to a survey conducted earlier this year and published in the Danish daily Ekstra Bladet which showed that 74 percent of the 15 000 respondents would prefer to see the end of the state gaming monopoly.

"Therefore, Mr. Commissioner, it must be time to take further actions on this issue," writes Blak. "The time has simply come for the Commission to have Denmark and the Danish Gambling Authority tried before the European Court of Justice."
EGBA joins call to take Danes to ECJ


Monopolistic nature and conduct of Danske Spil requires attention

The European Gaming and Betting Association, which counts big-name online gambling firms like Party Gaming, Bwin, Unibet, bet-at-home.com, The Carmen Media Group, Expekt, Interwetten Gaming Ltd. and digibet among its members, has come out strongly in support of calls for the European Commission to take the Danish government to the European Court of Justice on its monopolistic and exclusionary industry practices.

The call echoes those of several Danish politicians, most recently that of Freddy Blak, which was widely publicised (see previous InfoPowa report)

In an editorial in its latest newsletter, EGBA claims that the Danish government and its gambling monopoly Danske Spil continues to ignore the European Commission's quest for compliance with the spirit and principles of free movement of trade and services between European nations. The non-profit trade association therefore urges the Commission to back up its own words with actions and take the next step: Initiate an ECJ-trial against Denmark.

"As licensee under the Danish Pools and Lottery Act (tips- og lottoloven), Danske Spil is the only enterprise that can lawfully offer games, lotteries and bets comprised by the Act," the editorial points out. "Section 10 of the Act expressly lays down that no one except the licensee (Danske Spil) may offer games defined by the Act in Denmark. Furthermore, no one except the licensee may arrange for participation in such games offered by anyone other than Danske Spil.

"In its reasoned opinion of March 21, 2007, the Commission unequivocally emphasises that the Commission considers the Danish Pools and Lottery Act incompatible with existing EU-rulings (especially Article 49 of the EC Treaty). Furthermore, the Commission concludes that the measures taken by Denmark to restrict the free movement of sports betting services have not proved to be necessary or proportionate. Therefore, the Commission in its reasoned opinion warned the Danish State: 'If there is no satisfactory reply within two months, the Commission may refer the matter to the European Court of Justice," the editorial explains.

However, Denmark continues to infringe the EC Treaty, thereby keeping EGBA members out of the Danish market.

The Commission has so far launched legal action against ten countries. Besides Denmark, reasoned opinions have been sent to four countries: Finland, Hungary, France and Sweden. Letters of formal notice, the final step before court proceedings, have been sent to Greece, Austria, Italy, the Netherlands and Germany.

"Both from a legal and political point of view this [Danish lack of compliance] is of course completely unacceptable," the editorial concludes. "EGBA therefore urges the Commission to back up its own words with actions and take the next step: initiate an ECJ-trial against Denmark."

The newsletter goes on to outline recent and already well-documented incidents in which the Danish government has discriminated against European gambling companies seeking entry to its market, and the negative advertising campaign launched this year by Danske Spil which sought to falsely portray the industry in a mafia-like light

"Furthermore, Danske Spil's ads contain key-messages concerning such matters as Danske Spil's responsibility for the gamblers, thereby arguing for the upholding of the limits on internet gambling. In one of the TV-ads it is even underlined that Danske Spil ensures that the money will not end up in the wrong hands, which is of course a not so subtle reference to foreign providers. The advertisement is in fact shot in the basement of a parking house to give the right air of Danske Spil being up against money launderers and lawbreaking criminals," the newletter reveals.

The newsletter concludes with the EGBA affirmation that it is the right of its members who are all licensed and regulated within the European Union to be able to provide their services in those EU countries on a non-discriminatory basis. "We believe that any anti-online gambling legislation which is proposed or upheld by individual member states is likely to be breaking EU law. The EGBA is fighting against this discriminatory legislation as we believe that it is being introduced primarily to protect state-run monopolies.

"Opening up markets to competition also gives consumers the benefits of lower prices and a wider choice of products and suppliers. A competitive environment, especially in the online world where technology reigns and trust in a brand is paramount, also helps promote consumer security and game fairness."

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