Online Gambling Developments in Spain, Germany and GreeceBy: Joe Valentino, Tuesday October 4th 2011
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Spain, Germany and Greece are three countries on the verge of some form of regulated online gambling regimes. There have been some developments in the last week in each of these three countries.
The Spanish National Gambling Commission has released a list of companies officially accredited to provide approval and certification to applicants for online gambling licenses. The list includes NMI Metrology & Gaming Limited and Spain 2 TestLabs BMM. This follows the Spanish Parliament approving the Ministerial Order establishing the technical requirements for the provision of online gambling activities, prior to applying for licenses. Applications from potential online gambling operators will be accepted from November 14. The applicants will have to undergo preliminary testing on Internal Control Systems to ensure accurate transaction data transmission to the National Gambling Commission. This will be followed by a more broad based information and gaming system certification within the next four months.
Germany has taken a step backwards. The present national treaty on online gambling expires at the end of this year. Two of the German states have broken away from the pack and intend to establish a European Commission (EC) approved online gambling regime. The remaining states have had their proposal on online gambling rejected by the EC. Amid this scenario Germany's Federal Court of Justice has announced its decision on a series of appeals brought by online gambling companies like Bwin. The Court upheld the prohibition on private-sector companies from operating online gambling sites. Presiding Judge Joachim Bornkamm justified the decision on account of anonymity of gambler, lack of social control and accessibility at any time. Bwin responded to the judgment stating that it violated the EC rules and cannot sustain. The online gambling operator is considering filing a constitutional complaint. However, any response to such a complaint would be expected only by the end of the year.
Greece is in a hurry to push through its agenda of state controlled gambling so that it can generate some of the funds that it had committed to raise. The Greek betting monopoly OPAP, in which the state owns 34%, has filed a report with the bourse. The report states that its board has agreed to the government's proposal. Under the terms of the proposal OPAP will pay the government €935 million. €375 million will be paid to extend its concession agreement on the exclusive operation of eleven games until 2030 and €560 million will be paid for the right to launch 35,000 video lottery machines. Out of the second amount €474 million will be paid immediately to the government on the signing of the contract while the remaining amount will be paid 24 months after the permits come into effect. The agreement is subject to final approval by shareholders of OPAP.
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