Legal Action Against Sweden & Germany by the EU

31 January 2008

Today the EU (European Commission) started legal action against Sweden and Germany to try to ensure that they comply with the European Union’s free movement of services.

Charlie McCreevy, the EU’s Internal Market Commissioner has given Sweden two months to show that the prohibitive measures against poker games and tournaments are compatible with EU law. Svenska Spel, Sweden’s state –owned gambling company, offers and promotes online poker to its citizens, but yet it is illegal for foreign operators to do the same.

The Commission in Germany is targeting the Interstate Treaty on gambling which was put in effect at the beginning of 2008. Under this new law, private operators are banned from providing the games of chance via the internet, and or advertising these services. Also financial institutions have been barred from processing any transactions related to the ‘illegal’ online gambling.

 Germany was given two months to respond to the Commission.

 If Sweden and Germany do not prove to the satisfaction of the Commission that their measures do not breach the internal market rules, the cases will be sent to the European Court of Justice that has the power to FORCE the nations to amend their laws. And or face financial penalties.

 Lawyer for the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet, Stefan Widmark was delighted with today’s decision. Aftonbladet had written the Commissioner Charlie McCreevy earlier this month, urging him to take action against Sweden in regard to its Lottery law.

 “We are very pleased that the Commission has taken up this matter with the Swedish government, stated Mr. Widmark to the Gaming Intelligence Group. In the letter from Aftonbladet to the Commission two weeks ago, we requested the Commission to take up the subject of poker, as the focus of previous actions has been on the field of sport betting.”

Previous moves by the Commission have had little effect. Mr. Widmark stated that he hoped that today’s decision would force Sweden’s government to take action.

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