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Will the EU give up their fight against government gambling monopolies?

Sep 10, 2009

For many years, the EU has taken a strong stance against government-run or government-subsidized gambling monopolies in member states. Because of their desire to promote open trade and economic unification, the EU believed that gambling companies in member countries should be allowed to offer their services to anyone, even across borders. This clashes with the local policies in some countries, where the government wants to maintain a monopoly over all gambling, both online and offline.

Countries like Germany, Sweden, and Greece seek to monopolize all gambling that goes on inside their borders. This is done to regulate and control the industry, but also to produce tax revenue. Letting local players gamble on the internet using sites hosted in other EU countries means giving up both control and tax money.

In a surprising court ruling last week, the EU court ruled that Portugal’s state-run gambling monopoly can stay. The monopoly claims to control gambling in an effort to reduce criminal activities in the country. The ruling stated that the free movement of goods and services across EU state borders can be restricted if public interest is at stake.

While the repercussions of this ruling cannot be predicted, some believe it will open the way to allowing countries in the EU to restrict online gambling. This will effect internet gambling companies who will lose customers, but it could also restrict the choices that EU players face when deciding where to gamble online.

Regardless of how this plays out, most people will probably continue to gamble on the internet when and how they please. This is because when a gambling site is hosted outside a player’s home country, their own government has no jurisdiction, and can do little to stop it. This is a familiar story for US players too, who continue to battle for their right to gamble online. The future may bring changes, but in the mean time, players can always find an online casino offering real money blackjack games, no matter where they are from.

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