EU: Gambling Markets Must Be AccessiblePublished October 17, 2010 by OCR Editor
EU ruling obliges countries to end national internet gambling monopolies.
Either welcome non-resident internet gambling operators into your home market, or risk contravening the spirit and the law of the European Union: that's the message recently delivered by the European Court of Justice to Austria in what has been described as a significant victory for the online gambling industry. Austria has now joined several other EU countries which, in theory, must do away with their state monopolies on internet gaming. Until now only one online gambling company has had a license to approach Austrian clients.Green Light to International Gaming Operators
It was the Austrian requirement that internet gambling operators be based within the country's borders which prompted the European court's damning verdict. The law was found to be anti-competitive and in violation of the freedom of trade guaranteed throughout the EU. All eyes are now on Vienna as major international gambling providers are expected to make their move into the market.No State Monopolies Allowed
Austria is not the only Euro country whose internet gambling restrictions have fallen foul of EU law. Denmark, Poland and Germany have all recently been told that their laws, even though they permit regulated online gambling, do not measure up to the European ideal. Germany's legislation was too inconsistent; Poland's Austrian-style territorial monopoly was illegal; and likewise Denmark's home-based lone operator would have to get used to a bit of competition from beyond the country's borders.Calls for EU-Wide Market Liberalization
The EGBA (European Gaming and Betting Association) has welcomed the rulings but says they fall short of an EU-wide licensing policy for online gambling operators. Such a policy is needed if the market and possible revenue from gambling taxation are to reach their full potential. But with many governments trying to secure advantages for their home-grown operators, the signs are that such a move is still a long way off.