The European Commission closes all infringement probes and pending complaints in the gambling sector

On 07 December 2017 the European Commission closed all the pending infringement probes and complaints in the gambling sector.

EU Flags at the European Commission Building

The College of Commissioners decided on 07 December 2017 to close all the pending infringement probes and complaints in the gambling sector.

Thereby the open cases against Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Greece, the Netherlands and Sweden have all been closed.

The Commission declared that its overall handling of infringements would become more strategic and more focused, giving priority to the most important breaches of EU law affecting the interests of citizens and businesses.

In its Press Release announcing the decision, the Commission highlighted that it is not its priority to use its infringement powers to promote an EU Single Market in the area of online gambling services. The Commission further said that it intends to focus on its political priorities and encouraged the complainants to have trust in and make use of national remedies when facing problems with EU law in the gambling sector, as it considers that such complaints are handled more efficiently by the national courts of Member States. In other words, the Commission underlined the primary responsibility of Member States for the complete and correct transposition, application and implementation of EU legislation and considers that it should be the national courts of Member States to settle whether or not gambling legislation fits with EU law.

EL reaction

EL welcomes the decision to close the infringement probes and complaints concerned as it is yet another solid recognition of primacy of the subsidiarity principle in the gambling sector. The decision confirmed that Member States have a wide discretionary margin at their disposal when determining gambling policy on their territory, provided that the fundamental freedoms of the Treaty are respected. Given the fact that the Commission decided to close the infringement probes and complaints, it is evident that it considers that fundamental freedoms as prescribed by the Treaties have not been breached.

This decision is also in line with numerous case-law of the Court of Justice of the European Union in which Member States’ rights to restrict gambling services where necessary to pursue public interest objectives such as the protection of minors, the fight against gambling addiction and the combat of irregularities and fraud has been recognised repeatedly.

EL Secretary General Arjan van ‘t Veer said: ‘It makes sense for the European Commission to close cases when it is indeed no longer needed to pursue them. Concerns about public order and consumer protection are best dealt with by controls and regulation at the level of the Member State.’

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