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Jeanette Kozlowski

Legal Primer | ECJ Edition

9 April 2009

With 18 gambling-related cases currently pending at the European Court of Justice, it is proving difficult to keep all of these legal matters straight.

That's why Rolf Sims, legal advisor to Norwegian Ministry of Culture and Church Affairs, will be giving an update on all 18 at the European Gambling Briefing. He will be joining Fiona Russell, who is part of Betfair's international legal counsel, in Budapest April 22 for the special in-depth session.

For now, Mr. Sims gets us up to speed with a little background on some of the most talked-about cases.

The Portuguese Case

    Who: Liga Portuguesa de Futebol Profissional and Baw International Ltd. v. Departamento de Jogos da Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa (C-42/07)

    What: Partners Bwin Interactive Entertainment A.G. and the Liga Portuguesa de Futebol Profissional are contesting fines of 74,500 euros and 75,000 euros, respectively, for offering and advertising mutual sports betting services in Portugal, where Jogos da Santa Casa holds the exclusive right to offer land-based and electronic lottery and betting services. The crux of the case lies in whether the Portugal monopoly's reach carries to the Internet, which the country's government says it does.

    Estimated ruling date: First half of 2009

    Why it matters: “The Advocate General has given an opinion clearly in favor of member states and the right to uphold national restrictions,” Mr. Sims says. “Therefore there is some speculation how far the ECJ may go or not go. Will they use the opportunity to clear up the things with regard to all the different interpretations of EU law? Or will they take a more moderate approach and not seem to be too political? The question of gambling is still a hot potato in the EU -- with more pressure on the politicians to come up with a solution rather than the court.”

The German Cases

    Who: Winner Wetten GmbH v. Mayor of Bergheim (C-409/06)

    Joint cases: Markus Stoß v. Wetteraukreis (C-316/07), Automatenservice Asperg GmbH v. Land Baden-Württemberg (C-358/07); SOBO Sport & Entertainment GmbH v. Land Baden-Württemberg (C-359/07); Andreas Kunert v. Land Baden-Württemberg (C-360/07); Avalon Service-Online-Dienste GmbH v. Wetteraukreis (C-409/07); and Olaf Amadeus Wilhelm Happel v. Wetteraukreis ( C-410/07).

    Carmen Media Group Ltd. v. Land Schleswig-Holstein and Minister for the Interior for the Land Schleswig-Holstein (C-46/08)

    Estimated ruling date: These cases are all pending for oral hearing.

    Why they matter: “The German cases are of interest due to the fact that they relate to a big, central EU state and the classic state monopoly,” he says. “Germany is also a federation, and gambling is regulated by 16 different laws in the 16 states that are coordinated through a state treaty, which adds an extra element.” According to Mr. Sims, it's unclear when the oral hearing for these cases will take place.

The Dutch Cases

    Who: The Sporting Exchange Ltd., trading under the name Betfair; other parties: Minister for Justice, Stichting de Nationale Sporttotalisator and Scientific Games Racing (C-203/08)

    Ladbrokes Betting & Gaming Ltd. and Ladbrokes International Ltd. v. Stichting de Nationale Sporttotalisator (De Lotto) (C-258/08)

    What: In Ladbrokes versus De Lotto, a state-owned lottery and sports betting operator in the Netherlands, there has been an ongoing dispute since 2002 over the legality of offering cross-border betting services to Dutch residents. The case made its way to the ECJ in June 2008.

    Estimated ruling date: Unknown

    Why they matter: "The organizers have put these up on the agenda,” Mr. Sims explains. “Holland is also a central EU country with a state monopoly. The special issue with the Sporting Exchange case is with regard to the issuing of a license to a state monopoly, without a tender or application process for private companies.”


Know before you go: Below are links to the other seven cases Mr. Sims will discuss in less than two weeks.

The Austrian cases

    - Criminal proceedings against Ernst Engelmann (C-64/08)

    - Criminal proceedings against Roland Langer (C-235/08)

The French case

    - Société Zeturf Limited v. Premier ministre, Ministre de l'Agriculture et de la Pêche, Ministre de l'Intérieur, de l'Outre-mer et des Collectivités territoriales, Ministre de l'Économie, de l'Industrie et de l'Emploi - intervening party: G.I.E. Pari Mutuel Urbain (PMU) (C-212/08)

The Italian cases

    - Criminal proceedings against Antonello D'Antonio, Alessandro D'Antoni, Rodolfo Ramieri (C-395/05)

    - Criminal proceedings against Maria Grazia di Maggio, Salvatore Buccola (C-397/05)

The Swedish cases

    - Otto Sjöberg v. Åklagaren (C-447/08)

    - Anders Gerdin v Åklagaren (C-448/08)

Legal Primer | ECJ Edition is republished from
Jeanette Kozlowski
Jeanette Kozlowski