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European Court of Justice Gives Boost to Online Gambling Industry
The online gambling industry received a massive boost this week from the European Court of Justice. The legal arm of the European Union handed down its decision in favor of Stanley Leisure Plc in the company’s battle with the Italian gaming authorities.
There have been recent moves by European member nations France and Germany to restrict online gambling companies from conducting business within their borders. The actions of these two nations appeared to be in direct contrast with European Commission directives regarding the free movement of services between EU states. Protectionist positions regarding online gambling were not in compliance with EU legislation prior to this ruling, but in the
Prestige light of this ECJ decision, are no longer tenable.
Italy has plans to regulate the online gambling industry within their borders, and three shop operators of a Stanley Leisure bookmaking shop in Italy were criminally charged with operating without an Italian gaming license. The three men argued in their defense that their valid UK betting license granted them the rights to market in Italy based on the EU rules governing trade between member EU states.
Obviously the stakes in this case were far greater than the simple right of three men to operate a bookmaking business in Italy without an Italian gaming license.
The online gambling industry is popping champagne corks tonight as news came through that the European Court of Justice confirmed the position of the Stanley Leisure bookmakers to be correct, with a key phrase in the decision rendered by the 11-judge panel stating:
“The Italian criminal penalties for the collecting of bets by intermediaries acting on behalf of foreign companies are contrary [to EU rules].”
Austrian betting company BWin was understandably thrilled with the decision, after having two of their executives arrested by French police last year when they traveled to Monaco to promote the company’s sponsorship of Ligue 1 club AS Monaco. A representative of BWin was quoted as stating the court’s decision was a “milestone toward the opening of the European gambling market.”
The European Commission has begun infringement proceedings against a total of nine member states in connection with gambling.
The share prices of publicly listed online gambling companies surged strongly yesterday as news of the Placanica ruling hit the market.