EU Court Decision “Not So Bad” for Malta?
September 14, 2009 (CAP Newswire) — Last week, when an EU court ruled that it’s more or less legal for European countries to censor online gaming companies from operating within their borders, there was a whiff of panic from some of the continent’s larger online gaming operators.
A lot of that discussion was centered around Malta, where it’s estimated that as much as 10 percent of the world’s onine gaming business is operated. Last week, TimesofMalta.com writer Ivan Camilleri called the ruling a big “setback to [the] gaming industry”. (Click here for that story.)
This week, it seems as though cooler heads are prevailing. In a counterpoint published in the same Times of Malta paper, Matthew Xuereb writes that the judgment “does not impact Malta's lucrative industry as much as it seems at first glance.”
This opinion was taken from a conversation with Malta’s former CEO of the Lotteries and Gaming Authority, Mario Galea, now an industry consultant. Galea said that “although the judgment needed to be studied properly, the bottom line of the European Court's decision was that member states had the obligation to protect consumers from the adverse effects of online gaming.”
If this interpretation is correct, then Malta has an advantage, because it has already created safeguards to protect players and, in doing so, has even invited authorities in other jurisdictions to follow its lead. So Malta can be said to have an advantage since “it had already foreseen what the ECJ complained about”. Therefore, it may see little or even no fallout from this decision and any upcoming similar decisions issued by the ECJ.
Galea also went on to opine that the ECJ ruling did not in fact uphold gambling monopolies, as some have asserted. The ruling was rather a simple illustration that EU citizens needed to be protected by their respective member states, and that will sometimes reflect in larger judgments such as was seen last week.