Ladbrokes loses Norway case

In Norway, the District Court of Oslo has thrown out a bid from British bookmaker Ladbrokes that would have challenged the nation’s online gambling monopoly.

Harrow-based Ladbrokes launched legal proceedings against the Scandinavian nation in 2004 after it was refused a gaming license. It claimed that Norway’s move beached the Treaty of Rome, European Commission directives and agreements under the European Free Trade Association.

However, the District Court of Oslo disagreed, finding the nation’s laws on gambling to be fully compliant with its European agreements. It also ordered Ladbrokes to pay the defendant’s legal costs, which could reach over USD 177,000.

Trond Giske, Culture Minister for Norway, stated that the ruling was “an important victory for Norway as a welfare state and for the Norwegian gambling law”. “The verdict also sends an important message that supports the European tradition that each individual country has the most effective control of its own gambling market,” said Giske.

Norway’s gaming monopoly has come under increased pressure in recent months from European Union Commissioners who see its laws on gambling as anti-free trade. Although the nation is not a member of the European Union, in practice it abides by most European Union laws and rulings through its membership to the European Free Trade Association.

“We will continue to challenge state-owned monopolies, which in our view are detrimental to gamblers and to society,” said Lasse Dilschmann, CEO for Ladbrokes Scandinavia.