Malta withdraws court request as EU steams ahead on sports betting law

Malta withdraws request for ECJ’s opinion on Council of Europe sports manipulation convention, as European Council steams ahead with legislative proposal

Malta has requested the withdrawal of its request for opinion filed with the Court of Justice of the EU on 8 July, 2014, with regard to the compatibility of the Council of Europe Convention on the Manipulation of Sports Competitions with the EU Treaties.

The reason that Malta had submitted the request was to obtain an opinion on whether the definition of “illegal sports betting” was consistent with the objectives of the Treaty.

Malta claims that the definition of ‘illegal sports betting’ goes beyond the scope of the Convention and does not contribute to the fight against match fixing.

“Malta’s position on the Convention has always been made very clear and remains unchanged. Malta has maintained that it fully supports the main objective of the Convention to prevent the manipulation of sports competitions. In fact, Malta is currently undergoing an exercise to ensure the implementation of stricter rules and systems to suppress fraud and manipulation in sports,” parliamentary secretary for competitiveness José Herrera said.

“However, Malta has consistently reiterated its concerns on the definition of ‘illegal sports betting’ which goes beyond the scope of the Convention and does not contribute to the fight against match fixing. Malta tabled various proposals for amendment throughout the discussions on the Convention and following the rejection of all such proposals, was compelled to vote against its adoption. Consequently, we did not sign the Convention when it was opened for signature in September 2014,” Herrera said.

Despite the request for opinion, a legislative proposal for the EU to proceed was proposed and is now being discussed in Council.

“Given the developing circumstances, and after examining the legislative proposal, Malta considers that other solutions may be available to it and has decided that, at this stage, it is more appropriate to try to achieve an acceptable state of affairs for Malta through deeper dialogue at the European level, without however renouncing to any of Malta'’ rights and prerogatives,” Herrera said.

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