International edition
October 19, 2021

Its outlets in Greece have been raided and shut down

Odds stacked against betting firm Stanleybet International

(UK / Greece).- Liverpool gaming company says powerful political forces in Europe are restricting growth. Formerly part of the Stanley Leisure gambling empire, the firm operates more than 1,500 betting outlets in mainland Europe generating revenues of over us$ 300 million a year.

H

owever, the company has experienced difficulties in countries reluctant to open up their gaming markets. In the last few days two Stanleybet outlets in Greece have been raided and shut down and both staff and customers arrested.

The raid followed a complaint by the country’s OPAP betting monopoly which holds the exclusive rights on sports betting and lotteries in GreGamblingece until 2020. Stanleybet International is now the leading cross-border retail sports betting company in Europe.

Article 49 of the EU Treaty provides the right to offer cross-border sports betting services. This right has been upheld by the European Court of Justice. The European Commission is now considering infringement cases against a number of countries, including Greece, but some of the cases have now dragged on for several years.

And yesterday Stanleybet’s deputy managing director Adrian Morris told LDP Business that he believed the reasons for the delays were political and that EU states were trying to protect their betting monopolies. He said: “We believe there is no doubt this is a political logjam. None of the proceedings have gone to the final stage.

“That would involve the Commission asking the states for an explanation through what is called a Reasoned Opinion. If it did not get a satisfactory response to that then it would refer the case to the European Court of Justice.”

A spokeswoman for the European Commission insisted the reasons for the delays had nothing to do with politics. She told LDP Business: “There are a number of infringement proceedings but each one has to be dealt with individually and they advance at different rates. “Changing the law can sometimes take a long time.”

Stanleybet requested a license to operate in Greece in 2005, but the firm has not received any response until now and took the case to the country’s highest court. The case is still pending. An Athens-based analyst George Vitorakis claimed the firm’s move to open up stores in Greece was aimed at speeding up the legal case.

Stanleybet intermediary in Athens, Theodoros Lazaridis, has been charged with violating Greek sports betting legislation but has now been released. Morris says the company was consulting lawyers about what its next step will be.

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