ECJ Internet Gambling Austria
A court case between Austrian authorities and Bet-at-home.com is currently taking place in Austria.
Bet-at-home.com is licensed by the government of Malta the group has numerous subsidiaries.
The Austrians stipulated that the Maltese internet gaming rules were ample enough to protect player interests. The Austrian authorities disagreed and accused the two of violating the country’s internet gambling laws. The Austrian court that presides over the case approached the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for their input to ascertain if it’s in compliance with European Union (EU) law. An interesting turn of events occurred when both parties claimed that the ECJ supported them.
The ECJ ignored this statement because of the disjointed regulatory system across the 27 nations in the EU and feel that in the best interest of its citizens the onus rests on members states to protect them and not the ECJ. The European Lotteries welcomed this. President of the group, Friedrich Stickler said that this outlook could be seen as the beginning of the end for those who want uniform internet gambling laws. The Reuters news agency reported that the existence of the Austrian gambling monopoly is warranted on condition certain criteria is met and that Austria if so please could exclude foreign licensed internet casinos.
On the other hand, the internet gambling trade body European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) interprets this rule differently, rendering feedback that the ECJ called for stricter rules on state gambling monopolies. It specifically refers to the conditions under which the ECJ justified the existence of state gambling monopolies. It’s imperative that the laws imposed must ensure that players who engage in internet gambling are fully protected. Only restrained and partial advertising is permitted. The judges indicated that protecting players from problem gambling is not constant with a policy of creating and advertising new internet casino games.
The EGBA said that EU nations that operate state owned gambling monopolies failed to guarantee player protection, one of the main criteria to justify the existence of a monopoly. If one has to refer to the EGBA’s interpretation, the ECJ found that the Austrian court already expressed its reservations that the necessary player protection exists and that the criminal charges against the Bet-at-home.com promoters will be null and void.
The EGBA also pointed out to the ECJ findings that there’s not enough harmony that exists between the regulations of the various EU countries. Instead of interpreting this as a vehicle to regulate internet gambling on an individual basis, the EGBA saw this as a call for the “urgent need for an all-inclusive EU framework taking fully into account the cross border dimension of internet gambling”.
The European Commission (EC) is aware of the various interpretations, by means of its Green Paper initiative started collecting data holistically. The data will be fully analyzed this year in turn the EC will make a decision next year whether to suggest reform.[addtoany]