The European Court Decides in Favour of Online Casinos

17 February 2012 – By Cristian Dragomir

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The European online gambling market is still undergoing some tough debate about the future of the industry. In the present, many countries are still promoting a monopoly in online gambling. These operators argue that a liberalized online gambling market should be instituted in Europe. The Court of Justice has decided once again that it is illegal under EU laws to reject foreign operators from the market or input a state of incorrect competition on the market, where foreign online casinos have to pay huge taxes compared to the national operator. This is the case of Italy, where European operators were having a hard time accessing the market.

There are also cases where in some countries there were some operators who were functioning for many years and had a head start over other operators that were excluded because they did not have time to adapt to their rules. This is a case of unfair advantage and it’s a contravention against some articles in the European law. The public interest cannot be served by ensuring financial continuity and stability. The European Court of Justice also pointed out that some states took many actions and started to expand online gambling with the sole purpose of gathering more taxes. These countries cannot dispute afterwards that they apply restrictions in order to combat criminality and restrict addiction.

This new decision will have a great impact in many countries, an important one being Italy. The ruling states that national regulating bodies may not discriminate new operators that want to enter a specific market. This could lead to several procedures that could be taken against those that applied such measures. Many operators and officials praised this decision. This is the case of online gambling operator Stanleybet that should have equal rights with national operators when entering the Italian market. Italy has had many infringement cases and this ruling of the ECJ could put an end to that. There are also other countries that favour national operators and commit infringements on the EU law, such as France, Greece and Germany. This last decision could be the start to a development of a unified European market.

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