back to article EU watchdogs probe German and Swedish gambling blockades

German and Sweden are to be hauled over the coals by EU competition regulators for stopping online gaming firms entering their markets. New laws that came into force in Germany this month ban online gambling. The European commission is investigating whether the legislation contravenes EU law on free access to markets. EU …

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Cue Peter Gabriel!

"Games without frontiers"

(The next line is not repeatable here, since the Germans are involved and we mustn't mention the w...)

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Why?

"EU internal market commissioner Charlie McCreevy has asked Germany to explain why."

Why? Because it's our country and your jumped-up uber-bureaucracy does not yet decide what the German people want, penpusher.

Or words to that effect.

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Coat

Free Market...

i remember when the idea behind the EU was to help free trade between member states....

Free trade is one thing, dictating laws is another.... if the Germans want to ban online gambling, they should be allowed to.

Strength is in unity, but indervduality should not be crushed....

mine is the one with the €150/₤100 lable....

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Paris Hilton

Why bother

Why bother since there are no internal borders for the entire European Union and you can reach any assorted gambling den across the state boundaries without any problems by either car or fast public transport who really cares any way ?

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Charlie McCreevy and Gambling - oh well...

It is funny, ironic, sad, typical - choose one, it'll fit - when an Irish politician is asking the few remaining sober nations of Europe why they don't open their markets to online robbery and gambling addictions - McCreevy who was wading knee-deep in his native Irish bog of corruption, not least accompanied by shadowy half-criminals who tried to set up legal Casinos in Ireland.

So I say leave the Germans and the Swedes to their ban of gambling - it isn't a proper business model anyway - its legalised robbery and theft.and I really find it very rich that this criticism is coming from a member of a very corrupt era of Irish politics.

Its bad enough that betting and gambling is legal in Europe - but then thats the culture of those people and if this is being respected then so should the German and Swedish culture be treated with respect, where gambling and betting is considered to be on a level with prostitution and drug dealing.

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@John Blackley

No, but the jumped-up uber-bureaucracy in question DOES decide what the LAW is - a state of affairs that Germany, more than most EU countries (save France), is actually responsible for, so I can't say that I have any sympathy.

In any case, this is yet another example of the issues covered in USA vs Antigua. If you want to ban gambling, then you ban it completely. State gambling monopolies (like those of say, oh, Germany and Sweden) are in contravention of the free trade laws that both voluntarily signed up to. Free trade means free trade - not free trade except when it is inconvenient.

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Re: Because it's our country

"Because it's our country and your jumped-up uber-bureaucracy does not yet decide what the German people want, penpusher."

I assume you are German, then. Well, it hasn't been your country for over half a century. In fact, I might even be uncharitable enough to point out that the EU was your idea in the first place.

IT angle? Hard to see any. The fact that this trade is carried out over the internet is not significant from the legal standpoint. The best I can manage is therefore...

assert( outsideEU || obeyingEUlaw );

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Didn't the US try to do this?

Isn't this the same thing the US got "raked over the coals" for?

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Why?

Because this would reduce the fiscal income of Svenska Spel (Swedish Betting), a government controlled company that delivers the profits back to swedish tax payers instead of to foreign share holders.

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Re: Why?

"Why? Because it's our country and your jumped-up uber-bureaucracy does not yet decide what the German people want, penpusher."

So it's the job of Germany's own jumped-up über-bureaucracy to decide what the German people want? Why not let the German people decide what the German people want? If they don't want gambling, they won't pay for it, and the gambling companies will stay away. Crazy, I know, but it might just work. Let's give it a cool-sounding name, like 'the free market'.

Arbitary legal barriers are a great way to cheat on free trade agreements. "Let's see, your exports are pencils, hair bands and anthracite, ours are buns, U-bends and cider. Why don't we sign a free trade agreement? Oh, did I mention, pencils, hair bands and anthracite are illegal in our country. Sorry, that's just our culture and our citizens have the right to have us tell them what they can and cannot buy with what little money they have left after paying our taxes. Thanks for the foreign currency!" It's exactly why the EU has its byzantine legal system and occasionally silly EU-wide regulations, to ensure governments can't get away with this thinly-concealed protectionist fuckwittery. If it results in more economic freedom, all the better.

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Can we not....

Just get rid of the EU? Seriously? It's such a waste of time nowadays anyway. It's got about as much teeth as the UN, another bueracratic (or however the heck you spell that word, tried four times and still doesn't look right) monster that needs to be destroyed and started again.

We need a WORLD union rather than a european one.

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People have the choice on how they spend their money.

There is an assumption that those who gamble online are spending their lives' saving on it, which is further from the truth than could be imagined. The majority of players are casual ones having a flutter; there are others who really do play with a lot of cash, but these are serious players and would other wise play in a casino.

Gambeling companies would not survive if the players lost lots of money on the games, which is why these games pay out rather well. Otherwise, its bad for their business "Come play and loose" is not a good strapline. As a result players are really winning.

The companies also let you play for free. You can bet on the tables with virtual money, and win. Of course, its not real money and you cannot put it into the bank accouny ;P If a player wants to play with real money then the option is there. Of course, this is a ploy to get the player comfortable with the game so that s/he will feel comfortable and then wager real bets. This works both ways. The player gains confidence and wins more money on the real tables, and the companies gain a client.

These people are often playing for fun and relaxation, and I expect they get a similar joy from a table that I get from playing my favourite MMORG.

Online gambeling is well regulated and if players are highlighted as having a gambeling problem, they are usually contacted and asked if they want to suspect their account, or have hard limits set so that they cannot gamble their lifes savings away.

Back to the point: People have the choice on how they spend their money. It is not up to a government how they should spend their money other than that the local taxes (Income tax, car tax, poll tax, VAT on goods etc) in that nation.

However, this is all silly because usually the reason a nation wants to ban something like this is to protect their own internal market. The evils of gambeling can be applied to the evils of foreign investment and that terrible foreign food [that undermines the national markets].

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Doing what they're meant to do

One this one, I think the EU watchdogs are doing exactly what they're meant to do. Sweden and Germany are introducing a law that could potentially discriminate against foreign gambling organisations by forcing them to have a local presence in the country in order to access their markets. So the watchdogs are asking why they are introducing those laws. If Sweden and/or Germany can convincingly prove that the new law affects local and foreign businesses equaly, that they want to outlaw all forms of online gambling and it is not a protectionist measure, then fine, they should be left alone. On the other hand, if the investigation shows that the law is spelt in such a way that it discriminates against foreign businesses and is meant to protect local businesses by reducing competition, then they should be reminded that as part of the EU they have signed free trade agreements and are expected to respect them.

To be honest, it feels like Sweden and Germany will have a hard time explaining this one from a non-protectionist point of view. Any law that prevents a particular business from being carried out over the internet while allowing it in its traditional form inherently discriminates against foreign businesses as it forces them to have a local presence.

It looks like it's just a variant of US vs Antigua.

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Hypocrites

If Germany and Sweden were blocking online gambling for ethical reasons, I'd dislike their nannying, but I'd understand it; but they're not, they're protecting their nice little state earners. They're certainly not the only EU states playing these games.

The irony is that if you do want to gamble, your odds are much better with the offshore online gambling companies (of course the house always wins in the long run). I spent a year or two in the online gambling sector, and to be honest I found the industry and some of the people in it a bit dubious, and was glad to get out, but it became clear to me that a lot of the state owned gambling organisations were worse...

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