15 June 2015

Hesse Minister of the Interior concedes that Interstate Treaty on Gambling has failed

In an article, published today by Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the Minister of the Interior and Sport for the German state of Hesse, Peter Beuth, whose department is responsible for issuing Germany's 20 sports betting licences, has called for an overhaul of the Interstate Treaty on Gambling (Glücksspielstaatvertrag). He admitted that the current legislation is incapable of achieving its objectives. The German states should leave the "blind alley" and change the law.


12 June 2015

CJEU further clarifies requirements for EU-compliant gambling law

Brussels, 12 June 2015

Yesterday, the CJEU not only questioned several aspects of the Hungarian gambling law, but its ruling also provided a number of conclusions that are widely applicable (Case C-98/14, Berlington Hungary). These included taxation, the need to provide an attractive regulated offer and the requirement to notify gambling legislation.

EGBA Secretary General Maarten Haijer said: “The ruling of the CJEU is a timely reminder to Hungary and other Member States that national gambling legislation needs to respect the requirements of EU law. In particular, legislation must actually and primarily address the pursued objectives. Restrictions can only be justified if they serve to combat actual problems in the Member States, for example with regard to gambling-related crime or gambling addiction. Today’s ruling adds to the growing body of CJEU case law on gambling and the limits within which Member States must set their gambling policy.”

The particular case at hand concerns an amendment to the Hungarian law on games of chance made in 2012, which prohibited the operation of slot machines in amusement arcades (allowing them only in casinos).

The CJEU confirms (see link http://curia.europa.eu/juris/document/document.jsf?text=&docid=164955&pageIndex=0&doclang=EN&mode=req&dir=&occ=first&part=1&cid=496760) that:

- Prohibitions are found to constitute technical rules, which need to be notified to the EC: “the provisions of national legislation that prohibit the operation…constitute ‘technical rules’ within the meaning of that provision, drafts of which must be communicated...” to the European Commission (para. 100)

- The CJEU confirms that taxes may constitute a restriction on the freedom to provide services: “… national legislation, such as that at issue in the main proceedings, which, without providing for a transitional period, introduces a five-fold increase in the … tax … constitutes a restriction on the freedom to provide services, guaranteed by Article 56 TFEU provided that it is liable to prohibit, impede or render less attractive the exercise of the freedom to provide the services…” (para.42)

- The Court also inter alia embraces the need to have an attractive regulated offer as a pre-requisite to channel the consumer: “In order to achieve that objective of channelling into controlled circuits, the authorised operators must provide a reliable, but at the same time attractive, alternative to a prohibited activity...” (para. 70)

It will now be to the local Court in Hungary to provide the material ruling in the case, taking into account today’s CJEU conclusions.

For more information, please contact: Maarten Haijer, Secretary General of EGBA: +32 2 554 08 90, maarten.haijer@egba.eu