(CN) – The German government must retool its state-run monopoly on gambling, Europe’s high court ruled, because it “has no consistent and systematic policy for restricting gambling.”
The European Union’s Court of Justice noted that member states typically justify public gambling monopolies by claiming they prevent money squandering and addiction.
But the court pointed out that German gaming regulations are inconsistent, partly because Germany promotes automated casino games, which carry a higher risk of addiction, and has established different rules for other forms of betting.
Such an inconsistent monopoly is not justifiable, the court ruled.
Gaming lobbyists hailed the ruling as a significant step toward the long-awaited liberalization of the German gambling market.
But while the Court of Justice’s said German rules could not apply until they are harmonized with EU laws, the court emphasized the risks of gambling and a need for public control.
Europe’s high court added that member states should be able to categorically ban online gambling.
The ruling involves several foreign gambling companies, including Gibraltar’s Digibet and Britain’s Happy Bet, and is part of an ongoing process in European courts to harmonize gambling across the European Union.