The European Court of Justice has ruled that a country has the power to restrict private operators from entering the sphere of online casino gaming and Internet gambling, in a decision that came as a shock to many. The decision, which declared that private operators can be banned from the online casino and gambling arena in order to protect and safeguard the interests of a countrys citizens, gave direct justification for the upholding of the current online gambling and lottery monopoly in Portugal.
The case that was brought to court was not connected to online casino gambling directly. However, the repercussions could have a strong effect on the way the online casino industry is run in Europe. The case related to a dispute between Austrian online casino giant bwin and the gambling and lottery monopoly in Portugal. Liga, a Portuguese soccer club, is sponsored by bwin and so bwins online casino advertisements were placed on the uniforms of Liga players, as well as on Ligas websites. The Portuguese charity that held monopoly rights to online casino gambling and the lottery accused bwin of infringing upon their space and their position as a monopoly and, therefore, fined bwin as well as Liga.
Furthermore, the case was brought to the highest court in Europe, the European Court of Justice, who ruled that the government has the right to bar foreign online casino operators in order to combat fraud and other unsafe practices. In the case of bwin vs. Portugals gambling monopoly, the court ruled that this ruling applied because, in the courts opinion, gambling involves a high risk of fraud, criminal behavior and unsafe practices. It should be noted that bwin is a highly reputable online casino gaming group that puts security in high regard and has said that commercial casino operators can combat fraud on their own as wellnot only governments. However the court disagreed and, in short, gave permission to Portugal to maintain their government monopoly on online casino games and lottery and get bwin out of the picture.
This news is a surprise, especially in light of recent efforts across Europe to move away from monopolies in the online casino and gambling industry. For instance, Denmark just passed legislation in order to dissipate the Danish monopoly Dansk Spil and allow other online casino operators to compete. Other countries all around Europe and the rest of the world have been in the process of passing new legislation to regulate the online casino industry and find means of allowing offshore casino operators to enter the equation. With these new developments, who knows what will happen. Perhaps Dansk Spil will try to regain their monopoly and other countries around Europe and the world will put a halt on their online casino regulation legislation. What effect will this have on the online casino industry? All we can do is wait and see.