‘Unenforceable’ Lithuanian ban won't stop Unibet

‘Unenforceable’ Lithuanian ban won't stop Unibet

Friday, April 29, 2016
Lithuania's gaming legislation is incompatible with European law, according to critics

Unibet has told TotallyGaming.com that Lithuania’s gaming law is not enforceable after the country’s gaming authorities accused the group of “malicious behaviour” in continuing to operate illegally in the Baltic state.

Unibet was placed on a blacklist by Lithuania’s Gaming Control Authority (GCA) within days of the country’s Gaming Law coming into effect on January 1, 2016. The regulator said Unibet, as well as companies such as Betway and William Hill, had operated without a licence and would therefore be blocked.

The GCA today (Friday) said that Unibet is continuing to operate without the appropriate licence and is attempting to circumvent the system by changing its domain name to reach Lithuanian customers, an act which the regulator said was not in keeping with the company’s standing as a publicly traded company that is licensed in several jurisdictions.

Critics have long suggested that Lithuania’s gaming legislation is not compatible with European rules, specifically the order that licensees must have a retail base within the country, and Unibet – which did not deny the GCA’s accusations - said it expects the European Commission to reject the law.

In a statement released to TotallyGaming.com, Unibet said: “Lithuania is enforcing its blocking orders on the basis of legislation that has not been properly notified to the European Commission - standstill period violated – leads to practical non-enforceability. The Commission is expected to take further action against Lithuania in light of the pending infringement procedure.”

A GCA spokesperson told TotallyGaming.com that the regulator has notified Nasdaq Stockholm about its member company’s actions in Lithuania, and also said it “will also inform competent authorities in Lithuania and in other Member States”.

A GCA statement said that while Unibet “presents itself as one of the largest responsible online gaming operators in Europe”, its actions in Lithuania raise “doubt” about its integrity. 

The statement added: “Unibet continues to change internet domain names systematically and persists in violating the Gaming Law. The GCA considers such actions by one of the largest online gambling companies in Europe as malicious behaviour infringing legal requirements of the Republic of Lithuania and raises a doubt concerning publicly announced responsible activity.”

TotallyGaming.com says: “The Lithuanian gaming regulator is clearly doing all it can to fulfil its mission of implementing and enforcing the Gaming Law. However, Unibet is not alone in believing the legislation is not applicable with European rules, and this could be a conflict set to run for some time.” 

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