EU Commission Acts to Remove Online Casino Restrictions
By Marianne Lambert
The European Commission issued Reasoned Opinions against Denmark, Finland and Hungary yesterday, effectively asking them to change their online gambling laws to allow open competition in the sports betting market.

The three countries failed to demonstrate that the restrictions are 'necessary, proportionate and non-discriminatory.' The decision is set to continue to put pressure on France, Germany and The Netherlands.

Article 49 of the EU Treaty (freedom to provide services), and European Court of Justice (ECJ) case law fundamentally establish sports betting as a cross-border service. The law was tested in the by the Placanica ruling of 6th March 2007, and upheld.

Instead of reconsidering their monopolistic restrictions, some Member States have introduced even more restrictive legislation against private European-licensed operators while at the same time allowing for their state-owned or state controlled operators to expand and advertise their products and services.

Restrictions are only considered acceptable for reasons of general public interest, as Norway successfully argued. In answer to this Ladbrokes is already presenting itself as a similarly responsible provider and worthy competition.

Commenting on the European Commission judgement, Norbert Teufelberger, Bwin Co-CEO said, 'The decision to continue infringement proceedings against three members states simultaneously is a clear warning addressed to France, Germany and Austria to remove their current restrictions on cross-border gaming immediately.'

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