An advocate general of the Court of Justice of the European Union has issued his opinion that “a member state cannot enforce a criminal sanction in relation to an administrative formality” when in violation of E.U. law.
The European Gaming and Betting Association reported that the opinion resulted from the Austrian case Dickinger and Ömer, C-347/09.
The opinion relates to a member state allowing a monopoly to operate gaming while using national laws to stop other providers.
Advocate General Yves Bot confirmed that the mutual recognition principle is relevant for the online gambling sector. A monopoly can only comply with E.U. law if it delivers a high degree of consumer protection and does not attempt to promote gambling to satisfy tax revenue demands.
The CJEU recently confirmed that the E.U. Treaty does not allow legislation that “obliges a person to obtain a new license, without due account being taken of the fact that the conditions of issue are, essentially, the same as those which apply to the license already issued to that person in the second member state.”
The opinion of the A.G. is not binding, but in practice it is usually accepted by the CJEU. No date for the ruling has been set.
Sigrid Ligné, secretary general of the EGBA, said, “The CJEU is continually refining its jurisprudence as also the recent critical rulings on the German and Austrian gambling legislation show. It provides ammunition to the commission to finally refer the long-pending infringement cases against the gambling legislation of a series of member states.
“As the green paper on online gambling confirms that the internet provides more sophisticated possibilities to track the transactions of each player compared to off-line gambling formats, it is time to work towards a sustainable solution and introduce E.U.-harmonized rules for online gambling.”