EFTA Court decides on the Legitimacy of State Monopolies on Betting and Gaming – ISA-GUIDE.de

EFTA Court decides on the Legitimacy of State Monopolies on Betting and Gaming

Rechtsanwalt Martin Arendts, M.B.L.-HSG

Arendts Rechtsanwälte
Perlacher Str. 68
D - 82031 Grünwald (bei München)
Tel.: +49 89 649111-75
Fax: +49 89 649111-76
E-Mail: martin.arendts@anlageanwalt.de
Whereas the case of EFTA Surveillance Authority v Kingdom of Norway (case E-1/06) concerning the Norwegian State Monopoly on gaming machines has been pending before the EFTA Court since 16 March 2006, this European court now has to decide on the legitimacy of a state monopoly on betting and gaming. In a case regarding the British bookmaker Ladbrokers Ltd. against two government departments, the Oslo District Court (Oslo Tingrett) requested an Advisory Opinion of the EFTA Court on several questions. The relevant provisions of the European Economic Area (EEA) Agreement correspond with those of the EC Treaty. Therefore, the decision to be rendered in this case (case E-3/06) is of significant importance for the European Union as well.

The EFTA Court, like the European Court of Justice based in Luxemburg, will have to verify the legitimacy of a state monopoly on betting and gaming comprehensively. The questions to be answered by the EFTA Court are much broader than those posed by the Italian courts to the ECJ as they explicitly question the legitimacy of a state monopoly and the freedom to provide services for games of chance banned in one Member State, but approved in another Member State.

The EFTA Court will have to decide on the following five questions regarding the legality of a state monopoly and the freedom to provide gaming services:

1. Do EEA Articles 31 and/or 36 preclude national legislation which establishes that certain forms of gaming may only be offered by a State-owned gambling company which channels its profits to cultural and sports purposes?

2. Do EEA Articles 31 and/or 36 preclude national legislation which establishes that licences to offer horserace betting may only be granted to non-profit organisations or companies whose aim is to support horse breeding?

3. Do EEA Articles 31 and/or 36 preclude national legislation which establishes that licences to certain forms of gaming may only be granted to non-profit organisations and associations with a humanitarian or socially beneficial purpose?

4. Under EEA law, is it legitimate for national legislation to emphasise that the profit from gaming should go to humanitarian and socially beneficial purposes (including sports and culture), and not to be a source of private profit?

5. Does EEA Article 36 preclude a national statutory provision which forbids the providing and marketing of gaming which is not permitted in Norway, but which approved under national law in another EEA State?