Poker News: EC Questions German & Swedish Gambling Law

EU Challenges Online Poker LawsGermany and Sweden have officially been notified by a ‘letter of formal notice’ from the European Commission about infringement proceedings over their nation’s legislations that restrict the gambling services offered by them.

Recently both countries have moved towards banning or restricting online gambling companies that operate outside their borders mainly to protect the state run monopolies that have been very profitable to their coffers. EU treaty obligations call for open trade across European borders in the online market sector.

Now the two countries have two months to respond to the letter of notice. If the countries can not show the EU that their current laws are within the boundaries set by the EU treaty, then the cases will be sent to the European Court of Justice.

The notice against Germany came after the 16 German states ratified the Interstate Treaty which prohibits financial institutions from processing and executing online gambling payments as well as banning most all forms of online gambling as well as advertising restrictions.

The European Commission did point out that horse race betting on the internet is not prohibited in Germany that they have greatly expanded slot machines within their country. Also the use of advertising games of chance by radio, mail or through the press is still permitted.

The notice against Sweden is directed at the laws effecting poker games and tournaments. These games and tournaments are run strictly by the national government including online through the state run poker room, Svenska Spel. The letter points out that the country can not promote the game of poker while banning foreign gaming operators from offering their services.

According to the Commission,

“The national legislation prevents online poker games and tournaments offered by operators licensed and regulated in other member states. ‘Also, it provides for restrictions and criminal sanctions on the promotion both of online poker offered by a licensed service provider in another member state, and of poker organized within licensed premises in another member state.”

The European Gambling and Betting Association [EGBA], which represents eight online gambling companies, applauded the actions of the European Commission.

EGBA Secretary General Sigrid Ligné said,

“By commencing these broad proceedings only thirty days after the Treaty entered into force, the Commission shows its determination to fight restrictions and in particular prohibitions, which are not backed by genuine consumer protection or public order interests. What happened in the US proved that prohibition cannot be the answer. Trustworthy and highly transparent online gaming companies abandoned the US market, thus paving the way for a grey market in which no guidelines whatsoever exist in terms of consumer protection, prevention of compulsive gaming and protection of minors.”

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