November 14, 2008

Greek Police Raid Second Stanleybet Shop

Stanleybet has this morning confirmed that Greek police have raided the company’s second betting shop in Thessaloniki, arresting three customers as well as Stanleybet intermediary Theodoros Lazaridis on Saturday. This follows similar action taken by the Greek police last Thursday against the company's other sports betting shop in Athens.
All four persons arrested were charged with violating Greek sports betting monopoly legislation and held in custody overnight. However, the prosecutor, deviating from normal procedure, released them without subjecting them to a Court hearing and instead ordered a further investigation. Stanleybet said that the Greek authorities acted in 'direct contravention of EU law'.

Trading was interrupted as the authorities removed vital computer equipment which remains impounded.

Adrian Morris, Deputy Managing Director, Stanleybet International said: “This action, to arrest Mr Lazaridis and three citizens, is clearly contrary to established European law and ECJ jurisprudence.

“Furthermore we have a discriminatory situation where the Greek State is persecuting ordinary citizens who enter a shop to bet, without taking similar action against all those who bet online. It is now vital that the European Commission urgently addresses this unlawful behaviour and specifically pursues the outstanding infringement procedure.

“The decision of the Prosecutors to release everyone, without conducting formal indictment proceedings allows the re-opening of our outlet. This is a clear indication that the Greek authorities consider that our business model is legitimate under European law, and that there are flaws in the Greek’s own restrictive domestic legislation. The European Commission must act to ensure that an abuse of the rule of law does not continue.”

Last Thursday Stanleybet International intermediary Alexandros Vasdekis was arrested and later released without charge at the company’s betting shop in Athens.

Stanleybet International asserts that under Article 49 of the EU Treaty the company has the right to offer cross-border sports betting services. This right has been upheld by the European Court of Justice, most notably in the landmark Gambelli and Placanica rulings in which Stanleybet International was the substantive party.

Greece is one of ten European Union countries whose sports betting legislation is subject to infringement proceedings by the European Commission as being contrary to European law. Greece received a Reasoned Opinion from the European Commission in February 2008 that its monopolistic restrictions and penal sanctions in its sports betting legislation are inconsistent and disproportionate with EU law. The next stage is expected to be a referral to the European Court of Justice.

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