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Justifications for gambling in EU countries

Surveys

Justifications in national legislative materials and court decisions

There follows a list of examples of justifications actually advanced by the organs of Member States. Most of them list several of these justifications, often without drawing any precise distinctions between them:

Austria: “To attain public order and socio-politically related objectives, particularly player protection” – “Complete prohibition will encourage illegal gaming, so it has to be allowed, but clearly regulated and controlled by the State” – “Fiscal policy objectives: to maximise tax income”

Belgium: “To protect social order, to combat gambling addiction and money laundering and to prevent crime and fraud”

France: “To ensure the integrity, the security and the reliability of gambling transactions and to watch over the transparency of the management of gambling activities” – “To channel the demand for gambling services into a state monitored circuit in order to prevent fraudulent or criminal management of gambling activities and to fight money laundering” – “to control consumption of gambling services in order to prevent gambling addiction” – “to ensure that minors under the age of 16 will not be encouraged to gamble”

Germany: “Avoidance of an increase in the human passion for gambling and its exploitation for private or commercial profit” – “Guarantee of orderly gaming activity” – “Avoidance of the risk of crime and fraud” – “Control of the human passion for gambling” – “Avoidance of excessiveness and of profit-driven abuses” – “Guarantee of compliance with legal provisions and use of proceeds for public interests”

Ireland: ”To prevent the evil of tempting poor people to part with their limited resources in the remote expectation of gaining substantial rewards”

Italy: “Protection of public order and of the health of the citizens that may be endangered by uncontrolled and unregulated games and bets, as well as the combating of illegal and clandestine phenomena”; “the moral implications involved in the public action in the gaming sector need also to be taken into account: an attitude of open support of game, that may turn the public action in a open promotion of conducts socially sanctioned by current morals, is full of risks”

Luxembourg: “To channel, satisfy, limit and control the human passion for gambling”

Malta: “Prevention of money laundering and exigencies of public interest”

The Netherlands: “To satisfy the human passion for gambling and to prevent illegal gaming” – “To prevent gaming addiction, to counter illegal gambling and to protect consumers’ interests” – “To safeguard the public interest by preventing fraud and illegal gambling and by protecting the interests of consumers and minors”

Portugal:”The restrictions on gaming are not a matter of economic efficiency, but a social policy issue with most evident implications for cultural, moral, criminal and health fields. Gaming addiction is similar to alcohol and drugs and it has completely destructive effects on families and individuals. A minimum supply of money-prize games should be maintained in order to hinder the spread of illegal gaming. Only the Member States that are closest to their citizens have the capacity to regulate that supply”

Sweden: “The main aims of Swedish gaming legislation are to protect the individual and society and to dedicate the benefits to the public interest.”

Justifications categorised by objective

We have grouped the justifications advanced by national authorities into four categories as identified when examining the ECJ case law.

  1. Public order, prevention of money laundering and crime

Most of the Member States including Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom refer to public order as a sort of “basic justification”, mostly combined with a reference to the prevention of crime and the need to combat gambling addiction.

  1. Consumer Protection

This is referred to by several Member States, including Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

  1. Social Order Moral and Cultural Considerations

This is referred to by several Member States, including Austria, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom

  1. Other Grounds (Examples)
  • Economic and tourist development: This is explicitly referred to by Portugal and the United Kingdom.
  • Charity and promotion of public interest activities (such as sport): This is expressly referred to in a number of Member States, including Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
  • Media Pluralism: Only Austria advanced this justification, in a case however concerning a prize game.
  • Transitional industry-specific protection: The United Kingdom, for example, refers to the need to protect the revenues of the horse and greyhound racing industries during a transitional period.
  • Fiscal policy considerations: Austria, Greece and Italy include this as one of several justifications given. Spain and Portugal rather advance it as a primary objective.

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