EU Court Rules in Favor of EGBA, Orders Investigation into Dutch Lottery Licenses

In a major legal ruling, the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) won its appeal against the European Commission’s refusal to conduct a state aid investigation into lottery license distribution in the Netherlands, according to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).

The CJEU has mandated that the European Commission carry out an exhaustive inquiry into any financial benefits resulting from the procedure by which the Dutch State granted licenses to the nation’s already-operating lotteries. This ruling is in line with the Commission’s 2020 finding that the licensing process did not contain unlawful state assistance, hence negating the need for a full inquiry.

EGBA’s Allegations and Appeal

The lottery license renewals, according to the original case brought by EGBA in 2016, were opaque and amounted to unlawful state assistance. The group said that operators might prolong licenses through the renewal process without following a fair, transparent, and nondiscriminatory allocation procedure.

EGBA claimed that the Commission’s reluctance to look into the matter violated its rights under EU law and appealed the decision to the CJEU in March 2021. The group said that concerns regarding possible illicit state assistance necessitated a formal inquiry by the Commission.

In light of the CJEU’s decision, the Commission is required to launch a thorough state aid inquiry to ascertain whether the Netherlands’ lottery licenses were granted via the use of unlawful state funding. The Commission was also mandated by the court to pay EGBA’s

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Maarten Haijer, Secretary General of EGBA, commented on the decision, stating, “The facts and data of this case raised serious doubts about the compliance of the Dutch licensing procedure with EU law, which 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, and 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 favor, including the gambling sector. The selective enforcement of EU law undermines the Commission’s institutional role as the guardian of the Treaties.”

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