Monday, 14 December 2009

Agree to disagree

Poland approved this month a new law effectively banning online gambling in the Eastern European nation. In September 2009, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that countries can run state monopolies for online sports betting. 

Although ECJ judges recognised certain Member States have laws regarding online gambling that are not compatible with European principles, they ruled this ‘may be justified by overriding reasons relating to the public interest’, such as the high risks of fraud and other criminal activities. A month later, France announced it would give up its monopoly and proposed a law which will, on paper, open up its market to foreign gambling operators. 

At the same time, Denmark is putting forward new rules to regulate its online gambling market, as are Spain and Sweden - while Greece, Germany and Norway keep running their state betting monopolies. The ECJ ruling effectively gave Member States a tool to challenge the European Treaty, which guarantees an open market and freedom of services. The implementation of a European policy and single market for online betting across all 27 Member States seems therefore further away than ever.