Thursday, September 01, 2005Contact: Maurits Bruggink
+33.1.56 09 93 40
Norwegian Court also rejects myth that EU law opens gambling market

On 26 August 2005, the Norwegian Court of Appeal dismissed the ruling of the Oslo Town Court that concluded that the granting of a monopoly on gaming machines to a state controlled operator (Norsk Tipping) would constitute a violation of the European Economic Area (EEA) rules on free movement of services and freedom of establishment. The EEA is an extension of EU economic law to a few non EU member countries.

The Court of Appeal supported the Norwegian Government in its view that the monopoly for Norsk Tipping is appropriate in the light of the general policy to increase control on the spread and use of gaming machines and to reduce dependency of its citizens. The Court of Appeal reasoned that the licensing to private operators would always involve opposing interests, and thus difficulties if governments want to reduce or remove certain types of machines.

The Court further reasoned that as far as necessity and proportionality are concerned, EEA law provides the Member States with a broad margin of discretion, both with regard to the level of protection and to the appropriate tools. The Court reasoned that the mere fact that a state chooses another protection regime does in itself not mean that this regime would be unnecessary or disproportionate. Hereby, the court specifically referred to the European Court’s Läära case to support the view that a monopoly is not necessarily disproportionate.

The lottery case is similar to various cases on betting on horseracing, in which bookmakers try to open up markets on what seems an increasingly unfounded interpretation of EU law. The IFHA welcomes the Norwegian ruling, as it has done with most of the other national rulings that confirm the national integrity on gambling legislation.

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