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Unibet attacks “unenforceable” Lithuanian online gaming laws

Stockholm-listed gaming operator Unibet has hit back at Lithuania’s Gaming Control Authority after the regulator took the step of "naming and shaming" the operator for serving the market without a local licence.

The Gaming Control Authority of Lithuania singled out Unibet this week, accusing the operator of systematically violating its gambling regulations by operating without a licence.

The regulator said that Unibet was guilty of “malicious behaviour” which raises doubts about the company’s commitment to regulated markets.

This prompted a robust response from the operator. A spokesperson for Unibet said that Lithuania was attempting to enforce rules on the basis of legislation that has not been properly notified to the European Commission.

The company said that as Lithuania has violated the EC-mandated standstill period by enacting its new gambling law on January 1st, it does not consider that they be enforced and believes that punitive action against the country by the European Commission is more likely.

However, the Gaming Control Authority argues that the Republic of Lithuania’s legal acts must be considered valid and mandatory for all persons active in the country until they are declared invalid.

“Considering that the Gaming Law of the Republic of Lithuania is in force, the companies which do not have a license and permission issued by the Gaming Control Authority under the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Lithuania, entitling them to provide online gambling services in Lithuania, are operating illegally,” the Authority’s chief specialist of the division of legislation, staff and general affairs Skirmante Paukstiene said.

“Foreign companies offering online gambling are required to conform to current legislation and shall refrain from this activity in the Republic of Lithuania,” Paukstiene explained. “Considering this the companies presenting themselves as responsible and transparent, including Unibet, shall suspend their activities in Lithuania that infringe existing legislation.”

Shares in Unibet Group plc. (Co. Data) (STO:UNIB) closed in Stockholm Wednesday up 0.54 per cent at SEK93.85 per share.

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