European Commission Issues 'Reasoned Options' Against EU Nations
Protectionist measures and restrictions against online gambling by European Union countries continue to be challenged by that organization. The European Commission has just issued 'reasoned options' against at least three member countries — Finland, Hungary and Denmark — which already have policies in place restricting or infringing upon the rights of online-gambling companies licensed elsewhere within the EU.
Other sources cite a fourth country, Sweden, as also listed in this intermediate level of the EU complaint process, although Sweden is not mentioned in the official EU release on the matter. Also, at least three other countries — France, Austria and Germany — have received a letter of formal notice, an earlier stage in the proceedings. It is only after these steps have been exhausted that a referral to the European Court [of Justice] can occur.
The announcement confirms that a majority of EU member states are now being pressured to confirm with the free-trade provisions called for under EU agreements, and that state-run gambling monopolies, in general, are not the exception to these laws that these nations would prefer them to be.
While the EU complaint specifically mentions "sports betting services" as the infringed class of trade, the close alignment between these services and connected poker-room offerings ensures the findings in the EU complaints are of high importance to the online poker world.
One method that member nations have taken in an attempt to shield their state-run services is to pitch them as 'non-profit' concerns, which has been assailed by the EU on the grounds that not only do these state monopolies have strict revenue targets, they are often marketed through commercial/retail outlets. The three nations mentioned above have two months to respond to the reasoned option before the matter is eligible to be referred to the European Court.