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GAMBLING : GREEK POLICE ARREST PRIVATE GAMBLING OPERATOR.

Greek authorities arrested a Stanleybet agent, Alexandros Vasdekis, on 7 November. Vasdekis was subsequently released without charges. Whilst Greek authorities carry out an investigation, the shop concerned, in Athens, is no longer under closure. Stanleybet International, a British company, only entered the Greek market on 29 October. Its two outlets in Athens and Thessaloniki are specialised in football betting but also intend to offer seasonal sporting events. Its operations in Greece, though, are a direct challenge to the exclusive rights given by Greek law to OPAP until 2020 for all sports betting and lotteries. OPAP is a private company quoted on the Greek stock exchange, although 34% owned by the Greek state.

On 28 February, the Commission formally requested that Greece, together with the Netherlands, amend its laws on gambling. According to the Commission, the measures taken by Greece to restrict the free movement of gambling services have not been shown to be "necessary, proportionate and non-discriminatory". At this second stage of the infringement procedure, failing satisfactory reply within two months - and there has been no change of Greek law - the Commission could now refer the matter to the EU Court of Justice.

"This action by the Greek state is outrageous. However, by releasing our agent and not banning our outlet, the Greek justice system seems to be indirectly recognising our rights to provide cross-border sports betting services," said Konstantinos Maragkakis, communications manager for Stanleybet International. Maragkakis noted that if the prosecutor were convinced of the commission of a crime, he would have brought the case before the court next week without recourse to further investigation.

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Publication:European Report
Geographic Code:4EUGR
Date:Nov 10, 2008
Words:266
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