Eye on Europe - Nov. 20, 2006

20 November 2006

State Jackpot -- Investors in European Wireless Lottery Holdings (EWLH) have filed a 100 million-euro lawsuit against the Dutch state for not allowing an SMS lottery game the company developed in conjunction with Staats Loterij (the State Lottery). In development since 2001, the "Sevens" lottery was blocked in 2003 by the Dutch state secretary of Financial Affairs on the basis that the game did fit in the aim of the Dutch state to prevent gambling addiction. A judge ordered in April 2005 that the claim against the state was to be calculated, taking development costs and expected revenue numbers into account. The 100-million-euro figure was reached by accountancy firm Deloitte.

EU Charlie -- Charlie McCreevy, the European commissioner for Internal Market and Services, stated on Nov. 15 in Parliament Plenary Session in Strasbourg, regarding the vote in the European Parliament on the Services Directive: "Three elements--namely simplification of establishment, freedom to provide services and assistance and cooperation between member states--have always been at the core of the Commission's drive to open up the services market." Earlier this year the European Parliament had voted to exclude the gambling sector from the scope of the services directive. McCreevy said he does not see any real possibility that its member states will, in the near future, agree on common rules regulating online gambling. Speaking during a debate at the European Parliament, McCreevy said that although he wishes there would be consensus over the issue, he is also realistic.

Another Delay -- Milli Piyango, the Turkish National Lottery, is experiencing another delay in its privatization process. The relative tender, which will define the form of privatization, has not been announced yet, and this will take at least another year. Due to an action of the biggest opposition party in Turkish Parliament, the Constitutional Court annulled an article of the law granting the authorization to the Privatization Higher Board to rule on the rights, receivables and debts of the Milli Piyango, which was on the short list to be privatized. "By considering the characteristics of the services and duties, an authorization has been granted to the Privatization Higher Board for the decision regarding the rights, receivables and debts," the court stated. "However, the law has not determined the criteria for the utilization of this authorization and the limits are not clear. Therefore, the issues which should be determined by the legislative body have been passed to the Privatization Administration." Thus, the legislative power has been transferred, and the privatization process has another delay for at least a year.

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.