EC Refers Sweden to European Court of JusticePublished October 20, 2014 by Mike P
Swedish gambling operators are bracing for a challenge to their national monopolies after Sweden was referred to the European Court of Justice.
Late last week, the European Commission (EC) chose to refer Sweden to the European Court of Justice. In making the referral, the European Commission explained that is for Sweden’s persistent non-compliance with European Union (EU) legislation. This is the first instance in which the EC has taken this sort of action against a member of the EU in relation to its legislative approach to gambling.
A Breakthrough Decision
The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) claimed that the action was a “breakthrough decision” on the part of the EC. Previously, the EC had asked for Sweden to take action to ensure that its gambling legislation was in line with EU law. Up to this point, the EC has not considered the efforts of Sweden to be satisfactory.
Lack of State Control
Specifically, the EC has cited that Swedish authorities lack national control of its sports betting monopoly. Policy objectives are said to not be doing enough to tackle problem issues like criminal enterprises and gambling addiction. Svenska Spel is an online poker operator within the country that is also said to be falling short on control measures.
Freedom to Provide Services
Maarten Haijer of the EGBA has hailed the EC for “upholding fundamental European freedoms”. Of course, he is referring to EU businesses and their freedom to provide services. The general secretary of the EGBA said it was regretful that Sweden had displayed “little commitment to change” during recent years.
More EU States to be Challenged
A final point of note is that Haijer believes that the EC will continue this approach by referring additional EU member states that have been promoting monopolistic conditions and preventing external operators from entering their market. In contrast, Norway is free to maintain its monopolistic economy because it’s the Scandinavian neighbour of Sweden and is not part of the EU and is therefore exempt from its laws.