Last year, Schleswig Holstein, a German state, decided to license and to regulate online gambling. The decision was much appreciated and was accompanied by quite a bit of hype. This was mainly because Schleswig Holstein did something different from other states. It actually developed a rather unique model where private operators could engage in the business fairly competitively. Applications have already been received. But the licenses has not been issued as of yet because the European Commission has not considered or approved the monitoring arrangements that came up in Schleswig Holstein’s proposal. And until this approval comes, licenses cannot be issued.
Christoff Enaux, an independent legal expert has stated that the European Commission might actually take about three months to do the needful for accepting the proposal. The main problem is that the elections are up in the schedule for Schleswig Holstein in May. SPD, the opposition front at the present, is being expected to win the elections. And SPD is likely to stand against the online gambling issue. It has even made it clear that by rejecting the liberal approach being shown towards gambling online, Schleswig Holstein will be made to join the Interstate German Treaty that exists among 15 German States.
On the other hand, the joint proposal made by the German States has not been clearly responded to as of yet by the European Commission. While it appreciated the changes that were brought into the proposal, it severely criticized the fact that online casino games were virtually excluded from the regulatory framework that exists in the proposal. The German states have been asked to make necessary amendments and notifications in the relevant laws before it seeks approval of the commission. Besides, the expectation of the industry that an infringement proceeding might take place under its aegis is unlikely to happen.
Meanwhile in Greece, three online gambling software firms, GTech, Playtech and Intralot, have been shortlisted as service providers by OPAP. OPAP is the gambling firm owned by the Greek government. The service providers are to help in OPAP’s online betting venture. The CEO of OPAP stated that the final phase involved selection of a vendor by the third quarter of the running year. Owning 34% interest in OPAP, the Greek government has expressed plans for making online gambling legal and thereby providing necessary licensing. However, this proposal aims to retain OPAP’s monopoly and is yet to be approved both by European commission and the online gambling industry.
The French online gambling regulatory authority, ARJEL, is looking forward to sign an MOU with AAMS, the Italian regulator, UK Gambling Commission and National Gambling Commission of Spain. This might actually be a good step for the French gambling industry. The contents of the memorandum of understanding were not revealed by ARJEL’s president. But this MOU is hopefully going to bring some sense of coordination in the largely fragmented gambling industries in Europe. The European Commission, naturally, is looking forward to promote more of such initiatives and interactions.