European Commission to launch legal action over Swedish laws

European Commission to launch legal action over Swedish laws

Friday, October 17, 2014 Totally Gaming

The European Commission has commenced legal action against Sweden after claiming that the country’s online betting and poker game regulations conflict with European Union law on the free movement of services.

The EU executive body has referred Sweden to Europe’s highest court in separate cases relating to online betting and poker games.

Sweden currently only awards licences to national operators and state-owned companies – an approach that the Commission said breaches EU rules on the free movement of services.

EU law allows member states to impose restrictions on the cross-border supply of certain gambling activities in order to protect people against addiction or prevent crime. However, the national regulator must demonstrate that such measures are suitable and necessary.

“Sweden is referred to the Court of Justice for imposing restrictions on the organisation and promotion of online betting services in a way which is inconsistent with EU law,” the Commission said. “Changes to the Swedish gambling law in order to make it compliant with EU law have long been envisaged but never implemented.”

In the first case, which relates to online betting, the Commission said that Sweden’s licensing system for this type of gambling had not been applied in a systematic way and that national authorities had not adequately supervised commercial activities of the country’s exclusive service provider. 

The Swedish government responded by saying that its intention had been to “speed up the work that has been carried out for a long time in order to find a licensing system that could be introduced in Sweden”.

The second case focuses on Sweden’s regulation of online poker games with the Commission accusing national authorities of tolerating the unauthorised offer and promotion of such games.

Neither the Swedish authorities nor the national government responded to a request from to clarify the country’s position on the matter.

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