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E.U. GAMBLING MONOPOLY PRINCIPLES IN THE SPOTLIGHT

Yves Bot, the advocate-general at the European Court of Justice, reignited the cross-border gambling debate this week when he opined in a non-binding media statement that the Portuguese decision to ban online gaming operators based outside the country could be legal if it met conditions that include a public interest test and

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essential protection of consumers.
 
But such monopolies must not become pure money machines, the statement cautioned - monopolies are only acceptable if the goal is to protect consumers and maintain public law and order.
 
And the Financial Times reports that the ECJ official said it was up to the local courts to decide whether Portugal acted legally in extending its gambling monopoly to Internet-based betting.
 
The European Union policy of free movement of goods and services between member nations, which has so often formed the basis for litigation against exclusive state owned gambling monopolies, could be influenced by future rulings from the ECJ as the superior court in the EU.
 
The case is the first in which an ECJ official has considered whether a country can legitimately extend a state gaming monopoly to the Internet, and could have wide implications. Private gaming companies, intent on expanding their operations in the EU's Euro 400 billion gambling market, have argued repeatedly that restrictions aimed at keeping them out of certain countries breach principles of free and fair trade.
 
The Reuters news agency reports that the Portuguese case was initiated when online gambling betting group Bwin and the Liga Portuguesa de Futebol Profissional were fined Euro 74 500 and Euro 75 000 respectively by a Portuguese court for offering "mutual betting by electronic means" and advertising their services.
 
The companies contested the fines and questioned the legitimacy of the Portuguese law extending the gaming monopoly to online betting. Subsequently, the Portuguese courts asked for guidance from the ECJ on the issue.
 
According to the ECJ official's press release, a member country can only be forced to liberalise Internet gaming for its residents ‘if the country treats gaming and gambling as an economic activity to ensure maximum profit.’
 
With several EU countries currently under pressure from the European Commission to liberalise online gambling policies, including Germany, France, Holland and Denmark, the statement, although non-binding and an opinion at this stage, will be read with considerable interest.
 
Portugal's Santa Casa betting monopoly will also no doubt find it encouraging, although laws bringing into question the central EU policy must be approved by the European Commission.
 
Bot said the Portuguese law as written "constitutes a restriction on the freedom to provide services" by barring foreign gaming firms. But such a restriction was justified if it met an overriding reason relating to the public interest, was proportionate and not applied in a discriminatory way, the court statement said.
 
The European Gaming and Betting Association has been quick to interpret the ECJ statement as an opinion that shows that the Portuguese monopoly should not be extended to the Internet and would not pass the tests laid out.
 
Taking an opposite view, the European State Lotteries and Toto Association said the Bot opinion backed its view that gambling and betting should not be subject to the rules of the EU's internal market.
 
EU Internal Market Commissioner Charlie McCreevy, who oversees the gaming sector and has been behind a determined drive to enforce the free movement of goods and services between member nations, said last month he was facing opposition inside the EU executive and from key member states to pushing ahead with legal actions against offending states.



Gambling News :

Betradar Launches US Sports Betting Solutions - With only a few weeks to go until the betting and gambling world descends on ICE in London, Betradar have today announced that they will be launching a comprehensive range of tools and services to any company that will be looking to provide sports betting in a post-PASPA United States.

Abdelaouhab Zizi Wins MPNPT Morocco Main Event - Abdelaouhab Zizi has defeated fellow Casablanca resident Fadhil Farag heads up to win the 2018 MPN Poker Tour Morocco Main Event and MAD 375,000 (c. €33,220) after a two-way deal.

Final 12 For MPNPT Morocco - Sunday on the MPN Poker Tour Morocco will see several trophies awarded at the Mazagan Beach Resort, with the largest going to the Main Event champion along with a prize of MAD 400,000 (c.€35,400).

MPNPT Morocco Updates - Leading the 104 combined survivors from both flights is still Said El-Yousfi with 272,000 chips; visit the MPN Poker Tour blog for an end-of-day recap and full chip counts.

MPN Poker Tour Morocco Day 1A - The MPN Poker Tour has returned to Morocco this week (January 11-14), featuring the MAD 1.5 million guaranteed Main Event, accompanying side events, and the activities and parties for which this tour has now become known on two continents.

2018 MPN Poker Classic - The MPN announces the return of The Classic tournament series this January. The series is back following its successful €350,000 guaranteed debut in 2017. This time €500,000 is guaranteed, along with a once in a lifetime trip to Monaco for the Classic Champion.

PDC and Sportradar Renew Deal - Following this month’s hugely successful World Championship, the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) and long-standing partners Sportradar have renewed their multi-faceted cooperation that will see the leader in sports data and content continuing in their role as official data

Poker Yaar Joins MPN - Available through download, instant play and mobile, Pokeryaar.com is live with Omaha, Hold’em and Five-Card poker variants, alongside MPN’s Fish Party, the industry’s only progressive jackpot SNGs.

New MPN Poker Rooms Tower Torneos - Impressed with Microgaming, having already integrated with the Quickfire platform to gain access to some of the industry’s best gaming content, Tower Torneos has extended the relationship with poker.<

NY Rangers vs. Devils on 12/21 - When the Devils and Rangers hit the ice on Thursday (7 PM ET on MSG), so too will two of the league’s top netminders. After a slow start to the season, Henrik Lundqvist has returned to his form of old. Through 29 games, he’s posted a 2.59 goals against average, and a .920 save percentage.

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