EU Court Refuses Annulment Of EC Gambling Recommendations
The European Union Court of Justice (CJEU) rejected a petition for annulment filed by the Belgian government. This petition targeted a set of recommendations made by the European Commission (EC) which were put in place mainly for the protection of online gamblers and to find better strategies to prevent minors from gambling online.
These said recommendations have been around for several years now. They are not legally binding though and just recommendations. Their primary goal is to give member states of the European Union (EU) a set of guidelines that they can follow so that online gamblers would be better protected. These recommendations also restricted gambling operators from using advertisements that targeted underage gamblers.
This set of gambling recommendations was introduced back in 2014 but the Belgian government decided to contest them in court. Their main argument was that these EC recommendations were violating the rights of EU member states and claimed that they all had the right to regulate their online gambling markets in their own way and to implement their own protections.
Why did Belgium want the annulment?
Belgian legislators also said that issuing these guidelines overstepped their authority. According to them, the Commission has no authority to introduce anything that would place limitations on the online gambling industry. The Belgian government also objected to the recommendations as they felt that their own Belgian Gaming Act had higher standards and implementing the recommendations made by the EC would actually lower their gambling standards.
The CJEU disagreed with the Belgian government and upheld that these recommendations, stating that they were well within the right of the EC. The court also said that these recommendations did not interfere with any member state's rights. This is the second time that the CJEU sided with the recommendation. The first time was when it dismissed Belgium's case in 2015, but the country appealed the verdict. This time around, there will be no chance for Belgium to appeal the ruling.
The European Gaming & Betting Association (EGBA) was quite pleased by the ruling made by the CJEU. Furthermore, the EGBA encouraged the EC to push member states to follow the guidelines set forth in the recommendation. It also wants the EC to take it a step further and review the implementation of these recommendations and see if there are any violations.
The EC will then have to push member states to fix any such violations at the earliest. The EGBA is a powerful industry body based out of Brussels and represents the many online gambling operators in the EU. It includes some of the biggest EU operators in the market including Betsson, GVC Holdings and more.