Feeds

Greece and William Hill get ready to rumble, as gambling arrests continue

Placanica to be put to the test

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

House of Cards Precedent be damned. That apparently is the approach Greece is taking to recent developments in EU case law covering the cross border provision of gambling services.

Not to be dissuaded by recent European Court of Justice (ECJ) rulings, Greece this week arrested nine people in conjunction with internet gambling operations run out of internet cafes in Arta.

Three internet cafe owners, who had installed the gambling software of an unnamed UK bookmaker on the computers in the cafes, as well as six of their customers, were arrested in the raids. Maybe not coincidentally, the arrests followed an announcement by British bookmaker William Hill that it had filed for gaming licences in Greece and was planning to challenge the decisions in the ECJ if the Greek government refused to grant the licenses.

The recent ECJ ruling in the Placanica case stated pretty emphatically that criminal penalties would almost never be considered appropriate in situations involving licensing restrictions. The landmark case laid out a proportionality requirement for national governments to follow when restricting gambling services in the name of public welfare. In light of that ruling, it seems odd that Greece would take such a drastic step.

Greece is one of several European Union countries that maintain a national gambling monopoly, and the ECJ has held that member states may retain gambling monopolies if it serves the public good of reducing the social ills associated with gambling. However, most of the national monopolies are significant and growing sources of revenue for the national governments involved, which is of course at odds with the social goal of reducing gambling opportunities. As the president of OPAP, the Greek monopolist, noted tellingly, "The only company with the right to operate betting in Greece is OPAP. Some people are getting rich while the Greek state hemorrhages."

That was the gist of the problem with Italy in Placanica, and could well be the problem with Greece's monopoly, OPAP, which has seen strong revenue growth in the last year. Is Greece serious about reducing problem gambling, or just serious about preserving its national monopoly?

This gambit by William Hill, the second largest bookmaker in the UK, could well force Greece's hand and provide one more nail in the coffin to protectionist gaming policies. Let the games begin. ®

Burke Hansen, attorney at large, heads a San Francisco law office

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
JINGS! Microsoft Bing called Scots indyref RIGHT!
Redmond sporran metrics get one in the ten ring
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Murdoch to Europe: Inflict MORE PAIN on Google, please
'Platform for piracy' must be punished, or it'll kill us in FIVE YEARS
Bono: Apple will sort out monetising music where the labels failed
Remastered so hard it would be difficult or impossible to master it again
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Sony says year's losses will be FOUR TIMES DEEPER than thought
Losses of more than $2 BILLION loom over troubled Japanese corp
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.