by Attorney-at-Law Martin Arendts, M.B.L.-HSG
The EFTA Court will deliver its judgement in the Ladbrokes case on Wednesday, 30 May 2007 at 15:00 hrs. In this case regarding the British bookmaker Ladbrokers Ltd. against two Norwegian government departments, the Oslo District Court (Oslo Tingrett) requested an Advisory Opinion of the EFTA Court on several questions.
The relevant provisions of the European Economic Area (EEA) Agreement correspond with those of the EC Treaty. Therefore, the decision to be rendered in this case (Case E-3/06) is of significant importance for the European Union as well. Several EU Member States (Belgium, Germany, Finland, France, Greece, Portugal, Spain, Slovenia and the Netherlands) have filed briefs with the court.
The EFTA Court will decide on the following five questions regarding the legality of a state monopoly and the freedom to provide gaming services:
1. Do EEA Articles 31 and/or 36 preclude national legislation which establishes that certain forms of gaming may only be offered by a State-owned gambling company which channels its profits to cultural and sports purposes?
2. Do EEA Articles 31 and/or 36 preclude national legislation which establishes that licences to offer horserace betting may only be granted to non-profit organisations or companies whose aim is to support horse breeding?
3. Do EEA Articles 31 and/or 36 preclude national legislation which establishes that licences to certain forms of gaming may only be granted to non-profit organisations and associations with a humanitarian or socially beneficial purpose?
4. Under EEA law, is it legitimate for national legislation to emphasise that the profit from gaming should go to humanitarian and socially beneficial purposes (including sports and culture), and not to be a source of private profit?
5. Does EEA Article 36 preclude a national statutory provision which forbids the providing and marketing of gaming which is not permitted in Norway, but which approved under national law in another EEA State?