A court has thrown out a British bookie’s bid to challenge Norway’s online gaming monopoly.

Ladbrokes launched legal proceedings against the Scandinavians when they turned down its application for a gaming license back in 2004.

The company claimed that Norwegian law breached the Rome treaty, European Commission directives and agreements under the European Free Trade Association.

But the District Court of Oslo yesterday found the law to be FULLY compliant with EFTA agreements and other European obligations.

‘Important Victory’

Ladbrokes was also ordered to pay the Norwegian side’s £100,000-plus legal costs.

Norway’s culture minister Trond Giske hailed the ruling as “an important victory for Norway as a welfare state and for the Norwegian gambling law”.

“The verdict also sends an important message that supports the European tradition that each individual country has the most effective control of its own gambling market,” added Mr Giske.

But Ladbrokes Nordic boss Lasse Dilschmann said he was “disappointed” by the court ruling.

EU Pressure

“We will continue to challenge state-owned monopolies, which in our view are detrimental to gamblers and to society,” he said.

In recent months, Norway’s gaming monopoly has come under increased pressure from EU Commissioners who insist such laws are anti-free trade.

Although the country is NOT a member of the European Union, in practice it abides by most EU laws and rulings through its EFTA membership.

On top of this Norway has chosen to OPT IN to many EU programmes, institutions and activities.

Party Pledge

Ending gambling monopolies in other full EU member states — including Germany, Austria and the Netherlands — is important to the European Commissioners.

One reason is that the US Government points to them as one reason for keeping the American gaming market closed to outsiders.

Meanwhile, Norway’s main opposition party — the Progress Party, riding high in the polls and strongly tipped to win next year’s general election — said in August that when it assumed power it would LEGALISE private gaming and casinos and END the monopoly.


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