Sweden’s failure to re-examine its online gambling laws has compelled the EU to refer the country to the European Court of Justice.
Last November the European Gambling and Betting Association (EGBA) formally initiated infringement against countries, including the Netherlands, Sweden, and Belgium, amongst others, whose online gambling legislation did not comply with standards set down by the EGBA. At that stage Sweden received a formal warning to amend its internal gambling laws to better conform to EU gambling legislation. However, the EGBA has ruled Sweden’s actions on this matter unsatisfactory.
“Inaction will lead Sweden to the European Court,” said Maarten Haijer, secretary-general of the EGBA. According to Haijer, the current situation in Sweden may well leave the European Commission with no other choice than to take the country to the European Court of Justice. “Evidently the best option for all concerned, and especially for Swedish consumers, is that Sweden will commit to re-regulate its market and allow online operators to apply for online licenses.”
Sweden is now under increasing pressure to review its gambling policies, as the possibility of a sanction being applied looms. “The European Commission has been questioning Sweden’s gambling monopoly since 2006,” Haijer explained. “The [European] Commission is clearly convinced that Sweden’s gambling monopoly is not in conformity with EU law.”
A key requirement of the European Court of Justice is proper control over monopolies. “The Court has developed stringent requirements especially for monopolies, because they have a significant impact on the essential freedoms of the EU. These are no new requirements, they are there ever since the Commission first alerted Sweden on the prevailing problems, but they have never been addressed by Sweden,” Haijer elaborated.