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EGBA Triumphs in Legal Dispute against European Commission

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The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) has achieved a significant legal victory in the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).

The win relates to a dispute with the European Commission regarding how the Netherlands grants licenses to incumbent lotteries. The CJEU’s decision overrules a previous stance taken by the European Commission, marking a pivotal moment in the ongoing debate about lottery licensing in the EU.

In 2020, EGBA faced a setback when the European Commission dismissed the need for a formal probe into the matter as it said that the licensing procedure did not provide incumbent Dutch lotteries with illegal state aid. This response was to EGBA’s initial complaint filed in 2016, wherein it had urged for an investigation into potentially unlawful financial advantages in the licensing process.

EGBA’s Appeal and the CJEU’s Stance

EGBA remained persistent, appealing to the CJEU. They argued that the renewal of lottery licenses without proper market rate consideration or a transparent and non-discriminatory process amounted to illegal state aid. EGBA also contended that the Commission’s refusal to investigate was a violation of EU law.

The CJEU ruled in favor of EGBA on 15 November. The court concurred with EGBA’s concerns, finding an infringement of rights and nullifying the Commission’s earlier decision. The CJEU highlighted the lack of adequate preliminary examination by the European Commission.

Ruling Has Major Implications for Dutch Lotteries

This ruling has significant implications for the Dutch gambling market and lottery licensing system. According to EU laws on illegal state aid, if there’s any doubt, an investigation is mandatory. The Commission now has to initiate a formal investigation into whether the licensing process involved illegal state aid. The CJEU also mandated the Commission to cover EGBA’s legal expenses.

The facts and data of this case raised serious doubts about the compliance of the Dutch licensing procedure with EU law. This should have warranted the Commission to open a formal state aid investigation to address those doubts. We are confident the Commission will now carry out a thorough investigation. We are ready to provide any necessary information and data. It is crucial for the Commission to uphold EU law consistently across all sectors, without fear or favour, including the gambling sector. The selective enforcement of EU law undermines the Commission’s institutional role as the guardian of the Treaties.

Maarten HaijerEGBA Secretary General

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