he RGA represents some of the largest remote gambling companies in the UK market and was commenting on last week’s decision in the case brought by leading online betting and gaming provider Bwin Interactive Entertainment AG against Portugal’s Santa Casa De Misericordia De Lisboa sportsbetting monopoly.
Although in its ruling the European Court Of Justice recognised that the monopoly was a restriction on the freedom of services, it found that the restriction may be justified in certain situations to prevent crime.
The London-based group ‘expressed disappointment at the European Court Of Justice’s failure to find that Portugal had violated the freedoms of the internal market by creating an exclusive Internet gambling monopoly’. “The Portuguese monopoly eliminates competition and limits consumer choice,” read an announcement issued by the RGA.
“We regret that in its preliminary ruling the European Court Of Justice did not take a further step toward the fair treatment of gambling services in the internal market but remain hopeful that the Portuguese courts will ultimately render a fair verdict,” said Clive Hawkswood, CEO for the RGA.
“The narrow scope of this ruling reduces its significance in the overall legal context as it is not a departure from previous rulings. Thus, nothing in it should stop the European Commission from pursuing ongoing infringement proceedings against the clearly unlawful gambling regulations in multiple jurisdictions nor should member states construe this ruling as permission to enact protectionist regulations that are still unlawful under the European Court Of Justice’s controlling jurisprudence.
“As for the subjective views expressed by the European Court Of Justice about online gambling and the reliability of licensing in different member states, all I can say is that they bear little or no relation to the reality of the situation.”