Tuesday, March 06, 2007
European Court gives gambling ruling

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) today gave another ruling interpreting the compatibility of national laws with the European internal market legislation.

The ruling is without doubt favorable for the existing gambling and betting monopolies as it:

  • confirms their compatibility with European Union law (although restrictive measures must be proportionate);
  • confirms the justifications for restrictive gambling policies: consumer protection, the prevention of fraud, preservation of public order;
  • adds a new justification for upholding restrictive regimes: “..preventing the use of betting and gaming activities for criminal or fraudulent purposes by channelling them into controllable systems”;
  • acknowledges that monopolies can advertise, market their services and introduce new products.
  • confirms the discretionary margin of national regulators, defined by moral, religious or cultural factors

    As in its previous judgments, the ECJ emphasized, however, that the restrictive rules have to be proportionate and that the disputed Italian law was disproportionate. The law excludes listed companies from tender procedures for acquiring gambling licenses. The ECJ rules that such exclusion goes beyond what is necessary in order to achieve the objective of preventing operators active in the betting and gaming sector from being involved in criminal or fraudulent activities.

    Maurits Bruggink, IFHA Executive Director, welcomes the ruling: " confirms the jurisdictional integrity of countries with respect to gambling. We do not understand why the EU should become one gambling market while this is not even the case in federalised countries like the US, Australia or Germany."