|The European Free Trade Association court has decreed that Norway may be in infringement of European internal-market rules by blocking UK bookmaker and online casino operator Ladbrokes from establishing gambling services in the country.|
The final decision will lay in the hands of an Oslo court, but EFTA's decision, which ruled that the Norwegian government had wholly prevented private operators accessing the market and as a result has infringed upon the freedom to provide services, will help determine the outcome.
Ladbrokes asked the Oslo court to quash rules giving Norwegian firms such as Norsk Tipping and Norsk Rikstoto a monopoly over lottery games and sports betting, after their entry bid into the gambling market was rejected.
Norway had argued that local gambling companies use their money for socially beneficial causes, but the court did not accept that argument.
‘The motive of financing benevolent or public-interest activities cannot in itself be regarded as an objective justification for restrictions on free movement,’ the EFTA court said.