Infringements and court cases

Infringements and court cases

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. The European Commission has also launched investigations concerning several EU countries.

Legal overview

Most EU countries allow at least some games of chance to be offered on the internet. Some countries allow all games while others only allow certain types such as poker or casino games. In some European jurisdictions, monopolistic regimes offering online gambling services have been established. These are run by a state-controlled public operator or by a private operator on the basis of an exclusive right. However, a growing number of EU countries have established licensing systems that allow more than one operator to offer services on the market.

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 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. National rules which prohibit the provision of gambling services authorised in other EU countries were found to restrict the freedom of national residents to receive, over the internet, services offered in those other EU countries. These national rules were also found to restrict the freedom of operators established in another EU country from offering gambling services across EU borders.

EU countries may restrict or limit the cross-border supply of all or certain types of online gambling services on the basis of public interest objectives. The national rules focus mainly on consumer protection objectives, in particular the prevention of problem gambling, the protection of minors, and 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 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.

News on infringements

Court cases

Preliminary rulings


Judgement of 22/01/2015

Stanleybet International Betting Ltd – C-463/13


Judgement of 26/09/2014

Dansk Automat Brancheforening – T-601/11


Judgement of 30/04/2014

Pfleger & Others – C-390/12


Judgement of 12/09/2013

Biasci & others – C-660/11 & C-8/12

ECR [2013] I-00000

Judgment of 19/07/2012

SIA Garkalns – C-470/11

ECR [2012] I-0000

Judgment of 12/07/2012

HIT and HIT LARIX – C-176/11

ECR [2012] I-0000

Judgement of 16/02/2012

Pulignani – C-413/10

ECR [2012] I-00000

Judgment of 16/02/2012

Costa and Cifone – C-72/10 & C-77/10

ECR [2012] I-0000

Judgment of 15/09/2011

Dickinger and Ömer – C-347/09

ECR [2011] I-0000

Judgment of 30/06/2011

Zeturf – C-212/08

ECR [2011] I-0000

Judgment of 09/09/2010

Engelmann – C-64/08

ECR [2010] I-8219

Judgment of 08/09/2010

Carmen Media Group – C-46/08

ECR [2010] I-8149

Judgment of 08/09/2010

Stoß & Others – C-316/07 etc.

ECR [2010] I-8069

Judgment of 08/09/2010

Winner Wetten – C-409/06

ECR [2010] I-8015

Judgment of 08/07/2010

Sjöberg & Gerdin – C-447 & C-448/08

ECR [2010] I-6921

Judgment of 03/06/2010

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

ECR [2010] I-4757

Judgment of 03/06/2010

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

ECR [2010] I-4695

Judgment of 08/09/2009

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

ECR [2009] I-7633

Judgment of 06/03/2007

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

ECR [2007] I-1891

Judgment of 13/11/2003

Lindman – C-42/02

ECR [2003] I-13519

Judgment of 06/11/2003

Gambelli & Others – C-243/01

ECR [2003] I-13031

Judgment of 11/09/2003

Anomar & Others – C-6/01

ECR [2003] I-8621

Judgment of 21/10/1999

Zenatti – C-67/98

ECR [1999] I-07289

Judgment of 21/09/1999

Läärä & Others – C-124/97

ECR [1999] I-06067

Judgment of 24/03/1994

Schindler – C-275/92

ECR [1994] I-01039

EFTA court rulings


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