Today, Stanleybet will launch a case against the government of Italy in which they will ask for a €1.5 billion claim. They are seeking financial reimbursement for lost profits, lost business opportunities, reputational damages and costs all stemming from problems created by restrictive Italian gambling laws.
Stanleybet has had a rough time in Italy over the last few years. They once had operated high-street betting shops across the country, but after a series of police raids and forced closures on the part of Italian authorities, the Liverpool based bookmaker began what seemed like an endless chain of court battles, fighting for their right to offer their sports betting services to Italian players.
Over the years, several major court cases created precedents for situations regarding legal rights of EU states to offer cross-border betting services to citizens in other states. While the EU has yet to establish a firm stance on this, the rules are clearly becoming looser.
Earlier this month, Italy opened up its online gambling market, in part due to pressure from the EU, but also for financial reasons. Stanleybet, however, remains unhappy, insisting while the new rules allow them to offer internet betting in Italy, they are still restricted from opening land-based betting shops.
John Whittaker, Stanleybet chief executive, elaborates: “In spite of recent legislative developments that purport to offer change, as a land-based rather than an online business we continue to be treated in Italy as an outlaw. Our staff and intermediaries face the risk of arrest and harassment, and shops continue to be seized at the hands of prosecutors and officials. ”
The lawsuit, which Whittaker calls a “last resort”, covers an eight-year period through to 2006.