anta Casa claimed that bwin’s sponsorship agreement with the Portuguese professional football league and accompanying advertising activities were illegal because of Santa Casa’s monopoly in providing on and offline lottery and betting services in Portugal.
According to the ECJ, the Portuguese monopoly on the Internet may comply with Community law under certain conditions, but restrictions imposed by a Member State “must be suitable for achieving the objective or objectives invoked by the Member State concerned, and they must not go beyond what is necessary in order to achieve those objectives. Lastly, in any event, those restrictions must be applied without discrimination.”
Sigrid Ligné, Secretary General of the EGBA: “Given the stringent anti-fraud regulations applicable to EU licensed operators which ensure a high level of integrity, transparency and traceability over online gaming transactions, we do not believe those conditions are met. Several jurisdictions in the EU already prove that it is possible to guarantee a high level of consumer protection and have a well regulated and competitive online gaming market at the same time.”
Today’s judgment must also be seen in the context of the increasing number of Member States that are now in the process of rethinking and redrafting their gaming legislation. As has been obvious for all other consumer markets before, none of the Member States currently drafting legislation has chosen a monopoly model to regulate this modern Internet based market.