(CN) – Europe’s highest court allowed the nonprofit in charge of gambling in Portugal to block private companies from offering Web lotteries and betting.
The European Court of Justice said this restriction is justified by the need to combat fraud, which often accompanies gambling.
Portuguese legislation grants the Santa Casa de Misericordia de Lisboa, a centuries-old nonprofit under strict government control, the exclusive right to organize lottery games and sporting bets, online or otherwise.
Gibraltar-based online gaming company Bwin and the Liga Portuguesa de Futebol Profissional (Professional Portuguese Soccer League), challenged fines of about $109,000 levied by the Portuguese courts against each of them for offering online betting, since national law confers this privilege to a single institution.
Citing a lack of uniform gambling laws in the European Community, the Court of Justice ruled that individual states may restrict the free flow of services and capital for specific objectives.
Fighting gambling fraud is one such legitimate purpose, the court concluded.