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Online Prohibitions Investigated

The European Commission has launched investigations into German and Swedish prohibitions on online gambling and requested further information over concerns that they are restricting free trade.

Under European Union law, member states should be able to trade on an equal footing with one another. However, some member nations are increasingly restricting online gambling in order to protect state-run lottery and gambling monopolies.

Germany introduced a new treaty last month banning online gaming and betting except wagers on horse racing, replacing a law already the subject of enquiries, and the Commission is querying whether this law is consistent with the principles of free trade within the European Union.

‘By commencing these broad proceedings only 30 days after the law entered into force, the Commission shows its determination to fight restrictions and, in particular, prohibitions, which are not backed by genuine consumer protection or public order interests,’ said Sigrid Ligne, General Secretary of the European Gaming and Betting Association.’

The Commission stated that Sweden should not be allowed to permit betting in physical casinos or online through a State monopoly while, at the same time, barring foreign operators from offering online gambling.

‘A member state cannot invoke the need to restrict its citizens' access to betting services if, at the same time, it incites and encourages them to participate in state lotteries, games of chance or betting that benefits the state's finances,’ read a statement from the Commission.

The Commission stated that it was also looking into whether Sweden’s rules on poker games and tournaments were consistent with European Union laws on free trade and gave the Scandinavian nation two months to respond to its request for information.