On October 16, 2014, the European Commission referred Sweden to the Court of Justice of the EU (EJC) in two cases in relation to Swedish legislation for gambling services.
In November 2013, the commission requested that Sweden took action to ensure compliance with EU law regarding online betting and online poker services. While the Swedish government initiated an investigation to address the issues identified by the Commission, no legislative actions have been taken to resolve the issues.
Due to the Swedish government’s lack of action, the Commission has now decided to refer two separate cases to the Court of Justice.
In the first case, Sweden is referred to the Court of Justice for imposing restrictions on the organization and promotion of online betting services in a way that is inconsistent with EU law. In particular, the Commission points out that the Swedish exclusive right system for sport betting is organized in a manner which is “inconsistent with the aim of achieving public policy objectives of preventing problem gambling and criminal activities, and lacks the necessary state control”.
In the second case, Sweden is referred to the Court of Justice for the restrictions on the provision and promotion of online poker games. In essence, the Commission claims that “the restrictive policy in the area of poker games is not consistent as the Swedish authorities tolerate the unauthorized offer and promotion of poker games”.
How these cases will affect the ongoing legislative process in Sweden remains to be seen. However, the pressure for speeding up the process has definitely increased.
The European Commission’s full press release is available at http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-14-1150_en.htm.