European Commission launched formal infringement proceedings

European Commission requests Member States to comply with EU law when regulating gambling services

Today, the European Commission has called on a number of Member States to ensure compliance of their national regulatory frameworks for gambling services with the fundamental freedoms of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU. Member States are in principle free to set the objectives of their policies on online gambling. They may restrict or limit the cross-border supply of all or certain types of gambling services on the basis of public interest objectives such as consumer protection or the prevention of fraud and other criminal activities. However, national gambling systems must respect EU law.

Member States must demonstrate the suitability and necessity of the measure in question, in particular the existence of a problem linked to the public interest objective at stake and the consistency of the regulatory system. Member States must also demonstrate that the public interest objectives are being pursued in a consistent and systematic manner. They must not undertake, facilitate or tolerate measures that would run counter to the achievement of these objectives.

In its Communication “Towards a comprehensive European framework on online gambling”, adopted on 23 October 2012 (see IP/12/1135), the Commission announced that it would accelerate completion of its assessment of national provisions in the pending infringements cases and complaints and take enforcement action wherever necessary. After consultation of the Member States concerned, decisions on a first series of pending cases have now been taken. Concretely, the Commission has today:

  • requested Sweden to comply with EU rules on the free movement of services with regard to the regulation and supervision of its gambling monopoly;
  • closed an infringement case against Finland on the compliance of the national provisions establishing exclusive rights for the offering of gambling services with EU law;
  • decided to send to Belgium, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Poland and Romania an official request for information on national legislation restricting the supply of gambling services.

The Commission has also closed investigations and proceedings against several Member States which had not reached the stage of a formal infringement proceeding. Proceedings against other Member States remain open – either because the national rules in question are still under investigation or in the process of being substantially amended.

(to the complete press release)