The European Union (EU) is a unique partnership in which countries work closely together for the benefit of all their citizens. The 27 current member states of the EU have agreed to work together on issues of common interest, where collective and co-ordinated initiatives can be more effective than individual state action.
There is not, for the moment, specific legislation on gambling at EU level. However, the free provision of services in the internal market, enshrined in Article 49 of the EC Treaty, applies to gambling. Regrettably, many Member States restrict the free provision of gambling services from elsewhere in the EU while they permit the active promotion of gambling by operations that are frequently state owned or state sponsored. Protection of financial revenues- rather than the protection of consumers-appears to be the real motivation behind most of these restrictions.
The European Court of Justice( ECJ) has repeatedly made clear the narrow criteria under which such restrictions might be justifiable but a much more vigorious enforcement of the internal market rules is needed to ensure once and for all non discriminatory access to national markets for all responsible operators irrespective of where they are licensed within the internal market.