search.noResults

search.searching

dataCollection.invalidEmail
note.createNoteMessage

search.noResults

search.searching

orderForm.title

orderForm.productCode
orderForm.description
orderForm.quantity
orderForm.itemPrice
orderForm.price
orderForm.totalPrice
orderForm.deliveryDetails.billingAddress
orderForm.deliveryDetails.deliveryAddress
orderForm.noItems
EU BYTES


(2) The third on specific measures adopted for the operator in Germany’s most populated state, North Rhine-Westphalia. Here the Commission is investigating “if alleged annual loss compensation payments as well as a capital injection in 2015 by North Rhine-Westphalia in favour of the public casinos operator in the region, have granted an undue advantage to the operator”. This case, lodged in July 2017 and the investigation only initiated now, with a parallel conclusion that “no aid is involved in the alleged direct concession to operate another public casino in North Rhine- Westphalia”.


Why are investigations only launched so long


down the line after the complaint is lodged? Several factors can contribute to this, but it concerns preliminary discussions for clarification between the European Commission and the Member State. During that time, some points of alleged aid might already be resolved or deemed as not constituting illegal State aid. In some cases, the Member State requests extensions for clarification. Or other factors such as relevant regulatory developments have an impact. Indeed, the Commission does have a lot of discretion at the end of the day. Just to clarify, State aid is per se illegal in the EU except under specific circumstances/conditions..


Previous State Aid investigations in the casino sector


State aid investigations by the European Commission in the casino sector are nothing new. For example, in August 2018, the Commission decided not to raise objections regarding the tax on admission fees to both public and private casinos from 1995 to 2012. Even if the tax was set for both at 80 per cent, the admission fees were of different amounts (EUR 6 & EUR 15). What is worth noting is that a Commission decision can be challenged. The complaint itself was registered in July 2009, and the Commission launched the investigation in July 2010. In the meantime, there were requests by the European


Commission for clarification from the Greek government. The process also included a request by the Greek government for an extension of time to respond. In 2011, the Commission deemed that state casinos were favoured and that as such, there was illegal aid. The Greek government took the EU’s executive branch to court which resulted in the EU’s General Court concluding “that the Commission had failed to prove the existence of State aid”. The European Commission then appealed against this decision made in 2014 which resulted in the EU’s Court of Justice confirming the General Court’s decision and dismissing the appeal. The Commission had to adapt its approach thereafter. In 2018, the executive branch decided not to raise further objections. EU State aid procedures can be very lengthy,


even when courts are not involved. In another case, a complaint was submitted in 2012 regarding differences in Spanish tax approaches between online and offline offers. The association representing the gaming machine sector believed that the offline sector was put at a disadvantage. In 2013, the Commission preliminarily concluded “that the challenged measure did not constitute a priori State aid” which was then confirmed in 2015, but only after the association contested the Executive’s preliminary views with additional comments. So, what punitive powers does the Commission


have when it comes to EU State aid? None in the legal sense as the Commission has the power to recover incompatible aid. From a practical sense, of course, this can imply that the organisation benefitting from the aid can enter financial difficulties. On the other hand, this can result in governments becoming concerned about companies no longer being able to benefit from their tax regimes which in turn would encourage relocation. For example, take the recent cases of digital companies in Ireland.


Keeping an eye on overall gambling regulation in Germany


Germany is one of the EU Member States with the highest amount of EU investigations


regarding State aid. Opinions vary regarding why this is the case, but include that it is due to the size of the economy, strong traditional tie between state and business, and the re- unification of Germany, with the East German Länder a drag on the country’s economy. The question that lingers in my mind is how this will fare into the whole discussion on the upcoming gambling regulatory reforms in Germany expected for next year. Some might say that these are cases and issues that will only affect individual casinos. My take is slightly more cautious. It is since criticisms over the 2008 Interstate Gambling Treaty, we have seen a story comparable with the opening of Pandora’s box. Ok, well maybe it is a bit over the top to compare it with sickness and death. Yet, the lack of legal certainty was not a healthy matter for any operator except maybe those geared with a business model that would prove highly resilient to, or designed to thrive on, regulatory chaos. What will happen to online casino licenses with the new Interstate Gambling Treaty? Will they be offered across the country, rather than only Schleswig-Holstein as is currently the case? Will there be a license+ system whereby only those operating terrestrially will be able to offer online? Will gambling machines primarily remain under the Lander or municipal level of governance? Indeed, there might be some shifts under the new regime in what levels of governance (Federal, state, municipal) would be responsible for the various gambling services and relevant conditions. In any case, it would be very surprising for me if the question of State aid, taxation and the profitability of public casinos will not constitute a basis of argumentation in favour of reform within the German market. Oh, and if you are interested, you can as a


third party submit comments to the European Commission in light of any ongoing state aid investigations, unless of course you want to raise concerns of your own.


Greetings from Brussels.


JANUARY 2020 31


Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68  |  Page 69  |  Page 70  |  Page 71  |  Page 72  |  Page 73  |  Page 74  |  Page 75  |  Page 76  |  Page 77  |  Page 78  |  Page 79  |  Page 80  |  Page 81  |  Page 82  |  Page 83  |  Page 84  |  Page 85  |  Page 86  |  Page 87  |  Page 88  |  Page 89  |  Page 90  |  Page 91  |  Page 92  |  Page 93  |  Page 94  |  Page 95  |  Page 96  |  Page 97  |  Page 98  |  Page 99  |  Page 100  |  Page 101  |  Page 102  |  Page 103  |  Page 104  |  Page 105  |  Page 106  |  Page 107  |  Page 108  |  Page 109  |  Page 110  |  Page 111  |  Page 112  |  Page 113  |  Page 114  |  Page 115  |  Page 116  |  Page 117  |  Page 118  |  Page 119  |  Page 120  |  Page 121  |  Page 122  |  Page 123  |  Page 124  |  Page 125  |  Page 126  |  Page 127  |  Page 128