EU Ombudsman Rejects EGBA Complaint

Industry association claims maladministration in how European Commission has dealt with infringement complaints

The European Ombudsman has rejected a complaint against the European Commission (EC) regarding its handling of infringement complaints brought by the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA).

The EGBA complained that the EC had failed to ensure that the regulatory framework for online gambling in certain Member States was in line with EU law.

The EGBA claims numerous infringement complaint submissions to the EC weren’t followed up, open dialogue was denied with stakeholders and during the course of the Ombudsman inquiry, in December 2017, the Commission arbitrarily closed all open infringement complaints against Member States.

The Ombudsman, however, concluded that “the Commission has wide discretion on whether and how to pursue infringement cases and that the decision taken fell within the boundaries of that discretion” and that the EC’s handling of the infringement complaints did not amount to maladministration.

“Infringements proceedings in this sector have become a complete mess since the Commission decided to wash its hands of its responsibility to ensure online gambling regulation in Member States is in line with EU law,” Maarten Haijer, secretary general of the EGBA, said.

“While the Ombudsman’s decision is disappointing, it does confirm that the Commission’s decision to close these infringement cases was a political one.

“If the Commission is not taking seriously its responsibility to uphold EU law and ensure Member States, like Hungary, comply with EU Court of Justice rulings, then who will?”