New EC Ruling Could Have Effect on US Internet Gambling Laws

On 21st March, The European Commission (EC) took the next step towards removing gambling restrictions in a number of EU states.

In the spring of 2006, the European Commission initiated infringement proceedings under Article 226 of the Treaty on European Union against seven EU member states following complaints lodged by private gambling companies. Late in 2006, the EC then also sent letters of formal notice to France, Germany, and Austria following concern that these countries were also implementing protectionist policies.

After receiving replies to its written request for information from Finland, Hungary, and Denmark, the EC deemed the replies unsatisfactory, and took the next step by issuing reasoned options to these states. Under Article 226 of the Treaty on European Union, infringement proceedings are divided into three stages: A letter of formal notice, a reasoned option, and referral to the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

The Commission stated that countries who do not allow out of country sports betting, or Internet gambling activities, yet promote in-country gambling such as government run lotteries and casinos must open up their borders to gambling or the EU can take them to court. It explained that these countries, specifically Denmark, Finland, and Hungary, cannot claim that they are protecting their consumers from gambling since they promote certain kinds of gambling within their country.

But the real significance of this ruling is how it will affect the future of Internet gambling in the United States.

No other country in the world has a stronger rate of gambling growth than the United States, nor is there another country that more forcefully pushes out other countries from entering their market, which clearly goes against WTO and EU rules.

Every day the State House and Senate Committees introduce new bills offering various gambling expansion ideas. These bills either promote more slot machines at already existing slot parlors in a particular state, or they promote table games at places where only slots are allowed, or they promote the introduction of casinos in states where there are currently none.

Commercials for state run lotteries can be seen daily on television and heard continuously on the radio throughout the US. And with Las Vegas and Atlantic City being the biggest part of this culture, there is little escape from it. No other country sees gambling as a natural part of its past time as much as the US.

So it can be logically deduced that the EU will eventually go after America for the same reasons they are going after Hungary, Denmark, and Finland.

As yet there have been no remarks in reaction to this EU ruling from anyone of significance in the US, but keep checking back here for the latest updates as they unfold.

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