oday's ruling follows a judgment by the same court in March 2007, equally on a Norwegian case, in which the court explicitly upheld the country's monopoly system on gaming machines.
The EFTA Court ruled that where the State holds a monopoly to offer gambling services, “national authorities have the right to ban the provision and marketing of games of chance from abroad, no matter whether or not these are lawful in their State of origin”.
Winfried Wortmann, President of the European State Lotteries and Toto Association (European Lotteries, EL) welcomed the Court's decision: “Whatever the claims of commercial operators in the pages of the press have been over the past months and years. The EFTA Court has made clear once again that gambling services providers need a license from the State in which they want to offer their services and advertise. European law does not require the mutual recognition of operating licenses”
Wortmann, re-elected last week for another two-year term, added: “This is the third defeat for the supporters of a commercialisaton of gambling before a European court this year. In March both the European Court of Justice (ECJ) and the EFTA Court reiterated their standing jurisprudence, according to which Member States are free to define their gambling policy objectives and to determine in detail the level of protection for their citizens, as long as they pursue public interest objectives, such as preventing problem gambling and fighting crime, in a systematic and consistent manner. This includes the option to give an exclusive right (monopoly) to a single state-owned operator, as explicitly recognised by the EFTA Court in its judgment of 14 March 2007.”
Europan Lotteries is the association of the European state lotteries and toto companies and represents 74 organisations across Europe.