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Monopoly on internet casino games is lawful

19 September 2011

A monopoly on the operation of internet casino games is justifiable if it aims to combat the risks connected with gaming and does so consistently and systematically.

Jochen Dickinger and Franz Ömer were prosecuted in Austria for running a multinational online gaming business,, without a licence.

Under Austrian law online games of chance are treated as lotteries falling under a state monopoly.

Ruling in case C-347/09, the European Court of Justice found that the monopoly constituted a restriction on the freedom to provide services but that it could be allowed if “justified by overriding reasons in the public interest”, such as the protection of the recipients of the services and of consumers.

It also said “moral, religious or cultural factors, as well as the morally and financially harmful consequences for the individual and for society associated with betting and gaming” were legitimate aims giving governments a wide margin of discretion to determine what was required to ensure consumer protection and the protection of society. This included, where appropriate, the choice to set up a monopoly if it effectively helped with “preventing incitement to squander money on gambling and combating addiction to gambling”.

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Local government