Eye on Europe - 3 April 2007

3 April 2007

Charlie Angel -- Charlie McCreevy, the European Commissioner for the Internal Market and Services, gave a speech at a gala dinner on Friday. In case you're curious about his mindset, here's a quote to consider: "I cannot stress too strongly the need for Europe and each and every member state within it to avoid the cul-de-sac of protectionism, state intervention and regulation that destroy growth and lead to stagnation. We have all seen the huge benefits of competition and open markets in telecoms, in mortgages, in the trading of manufactured goods, in air travel. In each and every case it has brought prices down, driven demand up, created more--not fewer--jobs and left everyone better off. But there is still much further to go. There are still significant pockets of protectionism and restrictive practices across large swathes of Europe's economies--even in the most economically liberal member states, like Ireland, Britain, the Netherlands, Denmark and many of the emerging economies in the East."

Still Hanging in Turkey -- An IGN article published Dec. 5 mentioned the top 11 foreign operators targeting Turkey, and now that the Turkish Ministry of Justice has passed the Anti-Gambling and Internet Crime Laws, we look at who is still targeting the market. For Gamebookers, 10Bet, Interwetten, Expekt, Ladbrokes, Willhill, PointBet and Sportingbet (superbahis.com), it is business as usual. Bet-at-home, Unibet, bwin, and Betsson, meanwhile have either been blocked or have pulled the plug on their Turkey-facing operations. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is supporting a "clean Internet," commented on Saturday, "We will unite to fight cyber gangs who want to use the Internet as a weapon. We will not let Internet cafes become centers of crime."

Save Tipos -- A court case lost by Tipos, The Slovakian National Lottery Company, will result in a US$60 million windfall for the former operator, Sportka. The ongoing dispute of many years concerns the operating rights of Sportka. The court decision has not yet been executed, but Finance Ministry spokesman Miroslav Smal has already informed the press that his office will appeal immediately. The ministry claims that the exact sum that Tipos should pay in the dispute cannot be set and that the company will also have to pay interest on late payment. The interest is accumulating daily. Tipos reported total sales of US$153 million in 2005.

Paddy's Law -- English lawyer Paddy Whur provided a new gambling law to the (Greece) Cyprus government nearly two years ago. At the time, the Ministry of Finance was already aware of how much money was being lost in tax revenue due to the growth in the illegal market. "We suggested Internet gambling should be permitted, properly licensed and regulated," Whur stated. "Many operators wished to set up their outlets in Cyprus, and our view was that there was real potential for the development of a well regulated and respected industry generating good taxation revenues for the country." Despite this awareness, the law has been stalled by internal differences in the Cyprus government, positioning of political parties, officialdom and interference of commercial parties. Losses due to illegal betting in Cyprus in 2006 are estimated at between US$26 million and $39 million. To create a breakthrough in this stalemate, Whur has been invited by the government to come to Cyprus in mid May, with the objective of finding an acceptable solution for all parties. With the reports of so much money being lost, one might expect the proposed law to go through soon.

Rob van der Gaast has a background in sports journalism. He worked for over seven years as the head of sports for Dutch National Radio and has developed new concepts for the TV and the gambling industry. Now he operates from Istanbul as an independent gambling research analyst. He specializes in European gambling matters and in privatizations of gambling operators. Rob has contributed to IGN since Jul 09, 2001.