The European Court of Justice has confirmed in an Italian case that member states of the European Union cannot prohibit the provision of gambling services from other member states.
The court’s preliminary ruling in Biasci et al. reiterates that such restrictions, which effectively favor incumbent operators in one member state while shutting out those licensed in others, are a violation of the free trade guarantees contained in E.U. treaty law.
In addition, the court upheld judgments issued in Placanica and other rulings stating that no sanctions may be applied against those operators on the basis of national laws that are contrary to E.U. law.
The case stems from action taken by Italian authorities back in 2006 to block the official website of Malta’s Lotteries and Gaming Authority after they had prohibited some 684 gaming sites registered in Malta from offering their services in Italy. In a bid to bypass the blockade, the LGA had linked its website to all its licensees using a web anonymizer that disguises IP addresses.
Opponents said Italy was acting to protect its €2 billion domestic market from outside competition.