12 July 2012: CJEU's case HIT and HIT LARIX (C-176/11)
In a judgment delivered by the ECJ today, the court made clear that the restrictive rules on foreign advertising for casinos in Austria do not breach the freedom to provide services. In Austria, foreign casinos can only advertise their services if the rules governing the casinos in that country offer at least similar protection (e.g. on legal gambling age, observing gamblers' conduct, etc.) as offered in Austria itself. In order for foreign casinos (in this case from neigbouring state Slovenia) to advertise in Austria, they must obtain prior authorisation by the Austrian state. According to the ECJ, the Austrian rules do limit the freedom of to provide services, but that this limitation is justified by the objective of protecting the population against the risks connected with games of chance. Lacking harmonised rules in the field, Member States are still able to set their own rules as long as they are proportionate. In the case of Austria, this does not pose problems. The ECJ does warn, however, that Member States cannot require foreign casinos to be subject to identical rules. Click here for the full judgment in the case (C-176/11).