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The CJEU issued a decision against the legislation of an EU Member State providing different regimes on the gambling advertising ban between gaming halls established in the country and those of foreign operators located abroad.
In a dispute between three gambling hall operators established in The Netherlands and the Belgian state regarding fines imposed on them by the Kansspelcommissie (Gambling Commission, Belgium) for advertising their gaming halls in Belgian territory, the European Court of Justice (CJEU) held that EU law precludes the legislation of an EU Member State which grants the operators of a limited and controlled number of gaming establishments located on the territory of that Member State an automatic derogation from the advertising ban generally applicable to such establishments, without providing for the possibility for operators of gaming establishments located in another Member State to obtain a derogation for the same purposes.
Several EU gambling authorities are introducing different regimes of gambling advertising ban, but such prohibitions hit against the request from local operators to be exempted from the ban. For instance, Italy exempts lotteries from the Italian gambling advertising ban. However, such an exemption does not distinguish between local and foreign operators but responds to local needs with these lottery tickets visible in almost any bar across the country.
There is a high debate now as to whether exemptions shall be introduced to the gambling advertising ban, also leveraging the experience of other European countries. A broad ban was ineffective since it entails distortive behaviors from operators that need to reach their audience and poses higher risks for players since communications are forced to be less transparent. At the same time, the sports sector is considerably suffering from the lack of funds from the gambling market with its rich sponsorship agreements.
Therefore, an envisaged option is to exempt sponsorship agreements from the ban, being aware that strict regulations are already in place that limits advertising messages’ contents.
On a similar topic, the following article can be of interest “Italian court clarifies exceptions to the gambling advertising ban.”