European Court Advisers|Tackle Gambling Laws

     (CN) – Advisers to Europe’s top court released two opinions aimed at systematizing gambling across member states. Advocate Generals Yves Bot and Ján Mazák looked at cases where national legislation treated other member states differently regarding regulation of games of chance.




     Bot opined that Sweden legislation banning the promotion of Web-based lotteries originating outside the country was justified to fight fraud and criminality. National laws requiring licenses for gambling operators are not precluded by European Union rules, Bot said.
     But any penalties must be assessed equally, Bot continued. The case revolved around two Swedish newspapers that had been fined for running advertisements for Internet-accessible lotteries based in Malta and the United Kingdom in 2003 and 2004.
     Swedish law imposing a fine and prison time for advertising by foreign gambling must be consistent with laws that impose only administrative penalties for the same advertising for lotteries based within the country, Bot wrote.
     Advocate General Ján Mazák reviewed an Austrian case where a German national was prosecuted for running two casinos without a license. National law grants the Austrian government a monopoly over gaming.
     This unfairly discriminates against non-Austrian entities by requiring that they be registered locally, Mazák said. Companies based in any European Union state should be adequately supervised and penalized, he continued.
     However, member states should be free to regulate advertising for gambling based on sector, Mazák wrote.
     Advocate General opinions, though not binding, are generally followed by the European Court of Justice.

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