International edition
June 20, 2021

Cassazione questions if those freedoms can be restricted by a domestic tender system

Italian Court refers sports betting laws to ECJ

(Italy).- Throwing further doubt on the compliance of Italian sports betting laws with European law, Italian Supreme Criminal Court has questioned the regulatory framework that protects companies which were awarded licences under the Bersani tender in 2006, and has referred the case to the European Court of Justice for clarification.

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n its ruling, Italy’s Supreme Criminal Court (Cassazione) took the view that serious uncertainties of interpretation still remained about the breadth of freedoms of establishment and provision of cross-border services, as laid down by EC Treaty Articles 43 and 29.

Cassazione questions whether those freedoms can be restricted by a domestic tender system issuing a number of concessions supported by police licences, in a situation where holders of previously issued concessions are protected but new entrants were being denied access to the market, and where competition is restricted because new concessions are prevented from locating premises within a certain distance of existing concessions.

The court also asked whether those freedoms can be restricted where a concession can be forfeited with a consequent demand against financial guarantees and bonds, if the concession holder was also engaging in cross border activities similar to those operated under the concession.

“We have long been concerned about the erroneous perception that Italy’s legal framework for sports betting, as a result of conducting the Bersani tender in 2006, was open and compliant with EC law,” said John Whittaker, CEO Stanleybet, Europe's leading cross-border retail sports betting company. “We welcome this decision by Cassazione to adjourn legal actions and to refer to the European Court of Justice to seek a final resolution. Other countries seeking a model on which to base their laws must look elsewhere than Italy.

“We are particularly delighted that after disruptions going back over 10 years, Cassazione recognises that our business has a unique legal position, quite distinct from other foreign companies which operate in Italy without permission and which have sought to take advantage of Stanleybet’s efforts to achieve justice over the years.”

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