The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) has emerged victorious in a legal battle against the European Commission’s decision to not investigate the process by which the Netherlands awards licences to incumbent lotteries. The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled in favor of EGBA, annulling the Commission’s decision and ordering a formal state aid investigation.
The legal battle began in 2016 when EGBA originally filed a complaint to the European Commission, urging them to investigate potential illegal state aid in the renewal of multiple lottery licences for incumbent holders in the Netherlands. Despite the Commission rejecting the investigation, EGBA appealed the case to the CJEU, citing concerns about the renewal of lottery licences without a transparent and non-discriminatory process.
In its ruling on November 15, the CJEU agreed with EGBA, stating that there was an infringement of rights and a lack of appropriate investigation by the Commission. The court highlighted the “complete absence” of an investigation by the Commission, which could have identified any parties that received unfair advantages from the licensing process.
As a result of the ruling, the Commission is now required to launch a formal state aid investigation into the licensing process in the Netherlands. The CJEU also ordered the Commission to cover EGBA’s costs for the appeal.
EGBA Secretary General Maarten Haijer welcomed the ruling and expressed confidence in the Commission’s ability to carry out a thorough investigation. Haijer emphasized the importance of upholding EU law consistently across all sectors, including the gambling sector, without selective enforcement.
The ruling marks a significant victory for EGBA and sets the stage for an in-depth inspection of the Dutch lottery licensing process. It also reinforces the importance of upholding EU law in regulating the gambling and betting industry.