It’s been a turbulent winter so far for Stanleybet, despite some good news in November when they partnered with Playtech to further capture the Italian market.
But The European Court of Justice (CJEU) only has bad news for the Malta-based firm this Christmas thanks to its rejection of Stanleybet’s legal challenge to the Italian Customs & Monopoly Authority, which has been looming since April 2016.
Joint appeal is rejected
The news today comes that the CJEU has rejected the joint appeal by Stanley International and Stanleybet Malta. The ruling found that the Italian government, including all regulatory bodies, had not denied the betting industry services by its “exclusive national concession” for lottery and lotto-related games or products.
In April 2016, Stanleybet launched its European court appeal, challenging the €770m (£695m; $879m) exclusive renewal contract awarded to Italian lottery operator Lottomatica (IGT Group). The company argued that the lottery tender process was redundant because all of the provisions required were described so that only Lottomatica could fulfill them. What’s more, the appeal charged that regulatory stakeholders allowed no other external operators to register their interest.
Ruled compatible with EU Treaty
The CJEU has finally completed its review of Stanleybet’s challenge and determined that the ADM’s ‘concessionaire model” for the management of a lottery is compatible with EU Treaty, therefore business services were not denied. The judgment added that the management of member state lotteries is not a harmonized business sector for the EU, therefore the Italian government can add any restrictions it thinks necessary to protect Italian players from any risks that gambling may pose.
In publishing the case notes Arjan van ‘t Veer, Secretary General of the European Lotteries and Toto Association (EL) said: “The CJEU has clearly recognized that an exclusive concessionaire model, as chosen by the Italian legislator, is legitimate in order to promote responsible management of the lottery.
“The judgment points to the particularities of our sector where restrictions can be put in place in the general interest and which must be kept free from companies that have been referred to a criminal court. EL welcomes the confirmation in this ruling.”
Further expansion into Italian market
Stanleybet did announce back in November that an expansion in the Italian market was on the cards. The partnership with London-listed supplier Playtech has allowed the group to significantly expand its online casino offering in the market.
Under the agreement, Playtech deploys its portfolio of slots, table games, and live dealer casino games on the Stanleybet Italian network. The operator will also join Playtech’s iPoker network later.
At the time, Stanleybet Online Director Gianluca Porzio said: “We always aim to offer our customers the best on the market and Playtech is one of the best in the sector, which is why we must have their products in a portfolio as important as that of Stanleybet.”
While today’s ruling will no doubt be disappointing for Stanleybet, it seems that Italy still has a lot to offer the Malta-based firm.