First, the Court of Justice judgment. That has already been noted up admirably on the ECJ Blog so there's no need for much detail here. The point was whether national legislation which sought to eliminate crime and fraud from betting and gambling activities by setting up a state controlled licensing system and other measures was compatible with the EC Treaty.
The Court of Justice held that national legislation that prohibits the pursuit of the activities of collecting, taking, booking and forwarding offers of bets, in particular bets on sporting events, without a license or a police authorization issued by the member State concerned, constitutes a restriction on the freedom of establishment and the freedom to provide services, provided for in Articles 43 EC and 49 EC respectively. It also held that it is for the national courts to determine whether, in so far as national legislation limits the number of operators active in the betting and gaming sector, it genuinely contributes to the objective of preventing the exploitation of activities in that sector for criminal or fraudulent purposes.
More particularly, the Court of Justice held that Articles 43 EC and 49 EC preclude national legislation, such as that at issue in the main proceedings, which excludes from the betting and gaming sector operators in the form of companies whose shares are quoted on the stock market. Also, Articles 43 EC and 49 EC preclude national legislation, such as the Italian legislation in issue, which imposes a criminal penalty on persons for pursuing the organized activity of collecting bets without a license or a police authorization as required under the national legislation, where those persons were unable to obtain licenses or authorizations because that member State, in violation of Community law, refused to grant licenses or authorizations to such persons.
So that is an interesting but pretty straight forward judgment, the Court of Justice coming down pretty hard on the clear infringements of the Treaty but otherwise letting the national courts decide the issue of the appropriate nature and proportionality of the restrictions of the general system in Italy.
Second, the judgment of the EFTA Court in Case E-1/06, handed down a few days later, is interesting too. In that case, the Norwegian authorities wanted to curb what they considered to increasing addiction to gaming machines. What they did was introduce a state controlled monopoly on the operation of gaming machine granting it to a state-owned body called Norsk Tipping AS. The EFTA Surveillance Authority considered that the new state monopoly constituted a prohibited restriction on the freedom to provide services and the freedom of establishment.
The EFTA Court dismissed the EFTA Surveillance Authority's action. It cited the Court of Justice's judgment in Joined Cases C-338/04, C-359/04 and C-360/04 Placanica and basically held that the Norwegian system was an appropriate and proportionate system to curb gaming addiction. As a consequence, any restriction on the freedom to provide services and the freedom of establishment was justified on grounds of the protection of the public interest.