Feeds

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

Placanica to be put to the test

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

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

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
Adam Afriyie MP: Smart meters are NOT so smart
Mega-costly gas 'n' 'leccy totting-up tech not worth it - Tory MP
'Blow it up': Plods pop round for chat with Commonwealth Games tweeter
You'd better not be talking about the council's housing plans
Arrr: Freetard-bothering Digital Economy Act tied up, thrown in the hold
Ministry of Fun confirms: Yes, we're busy doing nothing
ONE EMAIL costs mining company $300 MEEELION
Environmental activist walks free after hoax sent share price over a cliff
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
Apple smacked with privacy sueball over Location Services
Class action launched on behalf of 100 million iPhone owners
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.