Portuguese gaming monopoly continues

PORTUGAL ACTED legally when it extended its gambling monopoly to internet based betting, the European Court of Justice has ruled.

The decision to ban online gaming operators based outside Portugal from offering online services can be deemed legal if it meets certain criteria including a public interest test, says the court.

Questions were asked of current gaming laws in Portugal when Portuguese authorities fined Bwin, a Gibraltar-based online betting company, and the Liga Portuguesa de Futebol Profissional for offering mutual betting by electronic means and advertising their services in Portugal.

This is the first case that the European Court of Justice has considered in relation to whether a country can legally extend gaming laws to the internet and could have wide reaching implications around Europe.

Private gaming companies have long argued that restrictions preventing them from operating in certain EU countries breach principles of fair trade and a free market.

However, the decision by the European Court of Justice has effectively endorsed state monopolies of gaming in the EU.

The case will now be discussed at a national level with officials being required to prove that the ruling fits Portuguese legislation.

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