Excursus: Precautionary Principle in EU Gambling Law

  • Simon Planzer
Part of the Studies in European Economic Law and Regulation book series (SEELR, volume 1)


Gambling activities involve risks relating to addiction and crime. The precautionary principle is a prominent legal instrument in taking preventive approaches towards risks. This chapter provides an excursus on the potential applicability of the precautionary principle in European gambling law. The notion, genesis and scope of the precautionary principle in European law are presented. While the fields of application of this principle have traditionally included environment and foodstuffs, there is no cogent reason to a priori exclude its application in other fields.

It is then examined whether the precautionary principle is suitable to be applied in the gambling jurisprudence. The principle’s rationale and criteria are presented and applied to the gambling-related risk setting. The analysis concludes that the principle is not well-suited to address gambling related health risks.

The chapter identifies a certain irony that accompanies the gambling jurisprudence. The criteria of the precautionary principle, which involves a wide margin of appreciation for Member States, heavily emphasise the role of science. A comprehensive evaluation of the risk to health must be performed based on the most recent scientific information and national measures must be based on the best available scientific knowledge at any given time. By contrast, the role of science and empirical evidence in relation to gambling addiction has been marginal in the Court’s jurisprudence on gambling. Finally, the chapter notes that a more substantial role of scientific research and evidence-based measures would not prevent courts from granting discretion under the label of ‘medical discretion’.


Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy Precautionary Principle Advocate General Gambling Disorder Scientific Uncertainty 
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Simon Planzer
    • 1
  1. 1.Lecturer in LawUniversity of St.Gallen HSGSt.GallenSwitzerland

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