EU court backs ban on online gambling ads

Sweden’s ban on the advertising of online gambling on the grounds of public order was given the backing of Europe’s top court on Thursday after two Swedish newspapers, challenged fines for publishing gambling ads. The ruling came after senior executives at two Swedish newspapers, Expressen and Aftonbladet, challenged fines they were ordered to pay for publishing adverts in their sports pages promoting online gambling. The advertisements were all for companies based outside Sweden. The newspaper executives argued that Swedish law unfairly penalised the promotion of gambling in foreign-based companies more harshly than it did similar offences inside Sweden. A Swedish appeal court referred the case to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg. Thursday’s ECJ ruling acknowledged that Swedish law banned the promotion not just of unlicensed gambling inside Sweden but also of legally organised gambling in other EU states. But it ruled that EU law allowed such restrictions on grounds of public security or public health so long as the penalties were not disproportionate to the offence. The court warned that if the penalties for the unlicensed promotion of gambling inside Sweden were harsher than those for advertising gambling in other EU states, then this would be discriminatory and in breach of EU law.


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