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Major European Court Case Decided

Law, 2007-03-06, by TwoGun

Since the United States passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, industry observers have focused on the legal outlook in Europe. Many European countries have expressed hostility towards internet gambling, largely because they wish to protect their state monopolies on gambling. Online gambling companies contend that European states attempting to restrict internet gambling violate EU free trade agreements.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) made a landmark ruling today in favor of the online gambling companies. The case in question took place in Italy. Massimiliano Placanica, Christian Palazzese and Angelo Sorrichio Placanica opened a shop for Stanley Leisure, a web and land-based gambling operator, in Italy without a license in 2004. The three were arrested and criminal charges were brought against them.

The trio contended they had a right to operate in Italy since they had a valid UK gambling license. The ECJ ruled in favor of the gambling operators today, finding that the three had a right to offer the gambling services under EU free trade agreements.

Some European countries are contending that the ruling does not affect them since their monopolies are meant to protect against compulsive gambling and not to increase state revenues.

Nevertheless, the court's decision is clearly a positive development for the online gambling industry. Share prices of publicly traded online gambling companies were up today. Party Gaming increased by 4.4%. Sportingbet, owner of Paradise Poker, was up 6.6%.

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