Industry observers and legal counsellors are currently awaiting a European Court of Justice response to five key questions regarding the application of European Union principles to cross-border online gambling between member nations. A fast response is unlikely, with most legal experts predicting anything up to eighteen months before an answer is handed down.
The questions were addressed to the ECJ by the Swedish Court of Appeals on the direction of the Scandinavian nation's Supreme Court, and follow years of litigation between the state and diverse EU Internet gambling companies challenging the state monopoly of Svenske Spel which aggressively excluded them from the Swedish market.
The objective of the Swedish judiciary is to assure that the Swedish Lottery Law is in compliance with EU law and principles.
The response to the questions, which perhaps indicate that the Swedish judiciary is no longer sure that its past rulings in favour of the status quo are valid, will obviously hold critical implications for the European online gambling market, and the request for guidance by the Swedes is commendable.
The highly detailed questions relate to the acceptability under any circumstances of discrimination on grounds of nationality in the public interest, whether the use of national gambling activity to fund social welfare activities justifies national exclusions of foreign companies, the position of state owned companies in restrictions that are in the public interest, marketing and licensing issues.