Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

Gambling case law

Gambling case law

Online gambling regulation in EU countries is characterised by diverse regulatory frameworks. In a number of judgments, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has ruled on the compliance of national regulatory frameworks with EU law. 

Legal overview

All national regulatory systems must respect EU law. In a series of judgments, the CJEU has provided general guidance on the interpretation of the fundamental freedoms of the Internal Market in the area of online gambling so that national courts can assess the circumstances under which restrictive national gambling laws are justified on grounds related to the general interest.

The CJEU has confirmed that the provision and use of cross-border gambling services constitutes an economic activity that falls within the scope of the fundamental freedoms of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). In particular, Article 56 TFEU prohibits restrictions on the freedom to provide services to recipients in other EU countries. Nevertheless, there is no obligation of mutual recognition of authorisations or licenses to provide gambling services granted by an authority in an EU country.

The CJEU has also repeatedly recognised EU countries’ rights to restrict the cross-border supply of certain gambling services where necessary to protect public interest objectives such as the protection of minors, the fight against gambling addiction, and the prevention of crime and fraud. 

While EU countries usually offer legitimate reasons for the restriction of cross-border gambling services, they must nonetheless demonstrate the suitability, proportionality and necessity of the measure in question, in particular the existence of a problem linked to the public interest objective at stake and the consistency of the regulatory system. 

EU countries must also demonstrate that the public interest objectives they have chosen are being pursued in a consistent and systematic manner, and they must not undertake, facilitate, or tolerate measures that would run counter to the achievement of these objectives. 

Court cases

JudgmentCaseReference

Judgment of 28/02/2018

Sporting Odds - C-3/17

EU:C:2018:130

Judgment of 20/12/2017

Global Starnet - C-322/16

EU:C:2017:985

Judgment of 14/06/2017

Online Games and Others - C-685/15

EU:C:2017:452

Judgment of 22/06/2017

Unibet International Ltd - Case C-49/16

EU:C:2017:491

Judgment of 13/06/2017

GBGA - Case C - 591/15

EU:C:2017:449

Judgment of 08/09/2016

Politanò - C-225/15

EU:C:2016:645

Judgment of 30/06/2016

Admiral Casinos - C-464/15

EU:C:2016:500

Judgment of 04/02/2016

Sebat Ince - Case C-336/14

EU:C:2016:72

Judgement of 22/01/2015

Stanleybet International Betting Ltd – C-463/13

EU:C:2015:25

Judgement of 26/09/2014

Dansk Automat Brancheforening – T-601/11

EU:T:2014:839

Judgement of 12/06/2014

Digibet and Albers - C-156/13

EU:C:2014:1756

Judgement of 30/04/2014

Pfleger & Others – C-390/12

EU:C:2014:281

Judgement of 12/09/2013

Biasci & others – C-660/11 & C-8/12

EU:C:2013:550

Judgement of 24/01/2013

Stanleybet and Others - C-186/11

EU:C:2013:33

Judgment of 19/07/2012

SIA Garkalns – C-470/11

EU:C:2012:505

Judgment of 12/07/2012

HIT and HIT LARIX – C-176/11

EU:C:2012:454

Judgement of 16/02/2012

Pulignani – C-413/10

EU:C:2012:87

Judgment of 16/02/2012

Costa and Cifone – C-72/10 & C-77/10

EU:C:2012:80

Judgment of 15/09/2011

Dickinger and Ömer – C-347/09

EU:C:2011:582

Judgment of 30/06/2011

Zeturf – C-212/08

EU:C:2011:437

Judgment of 09/09/2010

Engelmann – C-64/08

EU:C:2010:506

Judgment of 08/09/2010

Carmen Media Group – C-46/08

EU:C:2010:505

Judgment of 08/09/2010

Stoß & Others – C-316/07 etc.

EU:C:2010:504

Judgment of 08/09/2010

Winner Wetten – C-409/06

EU:C:2010:503

Judgment of 08/07/2010

Sjöberg & Gerdin – C-447 & C-448/08

EU:C:2010:415

Judgment of 03/06/2010

Ladbrokes Betting & Gaming and Ladbrokes International – Case C-258/08

EU:C:2010:308

Judgment of 03/06/2010

Sporting Exchange & Others (Betfair) – C-203/08

EU:C:2010:307

Judgment of 08/09/2009

Liga Portuguesa de Futebol Profissional &Bwin International (Santa Casa) – C-42/07

EU:C:2009:519

Judgment of 06/03/2007

Placanica & Others – C-338/04 – C-359/04 &C-360/04

EU:C:2007:133

Judgment of 13/11/2003

Lindman – C-42/02

EU:C:2003:613

Judgment of 06/11/2003

Gambelli & Others – C-243/01

EU:C:2003:597

Judgment of 11/09/2003

Anomar & Others – C-6/01

EU:C:2003:446

Judgment of 21/10/1999

Zenatti – C-67/98

EU:C:1999:514

Judgment of 21/09/1999

Läärä & Others – C-124/97

EU:C:1999:435

Judgment of 24/03/1994

Schindler – C-275/92

EU:C:1994:119

EFTA court rulings

JudgmentCaseReference

Judgment of 29/08/2014

Casino Admiral AG v Wolfgang Egger ­– Case E-24/13

EFTA Court Report 2014, p.732

Judgment of 30/05/2007

Ladbrokes Ltd. v The Government of Norway, Ministry of Culture and Church Affairs and Ministry of Agriculture and Food (Ladbrokes) – Case E-3/06

EFTA Court Report 2007, p.89

Judgment of 14/03/2007

EFTA Surveillance Authority v The Kingdom of Norway (gaming machines) – Case E-1/06

EFTA Court Report 2007, p.11