Justification Grounds in EU Gambling Law

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


This chapter pays close attention to the justification grounds and their legitimacy. First, it identifies a long list of public interest objectives that have been recognised by the Court of Justice under the headings ‘consumer protection’ and ‘maintenance of public order’ (addiction, crime, public morality).

The chapter then discusses the ambivalent relationship of the state towards gambling: it has an economic interest in the gambling business as well as in minimising gambling-related harm. In the early case law, the Court found it ‘not without relevance’ that games of chance could make a significant financial contribution to public interest purposes. By contrast, Advocates General and the EFTA Court rejected the logic that the goal could (partly) justify the means. Only in recent decisions, the Court has recognised a conflict of interest of charity operators and public authorities, similar to private operators.

Importantly, the chapter discusses in detail the public morality argument. It shows that, historically, the regulation of gambling was heavily influenced by moral beliefs. Christian religious leaders despised gambling as an idle and unproductive behaviour, and players were seen as morally deficient. Examples from the jurisprudence illustrate that the Court’s language as well seemed to be strongly influenced by a moral perspective.

The chapter argues, along a two-category model, that gambling in twenty-first century Europe does not constitute a core issue of morality. The legitimate concerns relate to potential detrimental side-effects but not to the activity as such. Instead, a scientific perspective is advocated and the need to base public policies on empirical evidence.


Criminal Proceeding Public Order Advocate General Public Morality Moral View 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Ritaine, E. C., & Lein, E. (2006). Les jeux de hasard dans l’Union européenne: Panorama de droit comparé et implications sur la libre circulation des services. In A. Epiney, A. Egbuna-Joss & M. Wyssling (Eds.), Annuaire Suisse de droit européen (pp. 465–478). Bern/Zurich: Staempfli Verlag/Schulthess Verlag.Google Scholar
  2. Spapens, T., Littler, A., & Fijnaut, C. J. (2008). Crime, addiction and the regulation of gambling. Leiden: Martinus Nijhof Publishers.Google Scholar
  3. Young, R., & Todd, J. (2008). Online gamblingFocusing on integrity and a code of conduct for gambling. Report prepared by Europe Economics for the European Parliament. Available at
  4. Unger, B., & Ferwerda, J. (2011). Money laundering in the real estate sector: Suspicious properties. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.Google Scholar
  5. Coryn, T., Fijnaut, C., & Littler, A. (2008). Economic aspects of gambling regulation: EU and US perspectives. Leiden: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers.Google Scholar
  6. Weber, M. (1904–1905). Die protestantische Ethik und der Geist des Kapitalismus. (Archiv für Sozialwissenschaft und Sozialpolitik). Nördlichen: Druckerei C.H. Beck.Google Scholar
  7. Bodo, C., Gordon, C., & Ilczuk, D. (Eds.) (2004). Gambling on culture: State lotteries as a source of funding for culture – The arts and heritage. Amsterdam: Circle.Google Scholar
  8. Potenza, M. N. (2009). Gambling and morality: A neuropsychiatric perspective. In A. Wolfe & E. C. Owens (Eds.), Gambling: Mapping the American moral landscape (pp. 175–191). Waco, TX: Baylor University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Bogart, W. A. (2001). Permit but discourage – Regulating excessive consumption. Oxford/New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Devaney, M. (2009). Online gambling and international regulation: An outside bet. Information & Communications Technology Law, 18(3), 273–283.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Verbeke, A.-L. (2011). Gambling regulation in Europe: Moving beyond ambiguity and hypocrisy. In A. Litter, N. Hoekx, C. Fijnaut, et al. (Eds.), In the shadow of Luxembourg: EU and national developments in the regulation of gambling (pp. 251–259). Leiden/Boston: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Häberling, G. (2012). Internet gambling policy in Europe. In R. J. Williams, R. T. Wood & J. Parke (Eds.), Routledge international handbook of internet gambling (pp. 284–299). London/New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  13. Badura, P. (2008). Verfassungsrechtliche und gemeinschaftsrechtliche Fragen einer Neuordnung des Glücksspielwesens in Deutschland. In J. Ennuschat (Ed.), Aktuelle Probleme des Rechts der Glücksspiele – Vier Rechtsgutachten. Munich: Verlag Franz Vahlen.Google Scholar
  14. Thaler, R. H., & Sunstein, C. R. (2008). Nudge: Improving decisions about health, wealth, and happiness. New Haven CT/London: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Thompson, W. N. (2001). Gambling in America: An encyclopedia of history, issues, and society (Vol. 1). Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO Inc.Google Scholar
  16. Lutter, M. (2011). Konkurrenten auf dem Markt für Hoffnung. Religiöse Wurzeln der gesellschaftlichen Problematisierung von Glücksspielen. Soziale Probleme, 22(1), 28–55.Google Scholar
  17. Sartre, J.-P. (1946). L’existentialisme est un humanisme. Paris: Nagel.Google Scholar
  18. Sternberger, D. (1990). Verfassungspatriotismus. Frankfurt am Main: Insel.Google Scholar
  19. Gasser, U. (2011). Responsibility for human rights violations, acts or omissions, within the ‘sphere of influence’ of companies. In G. Nystuen, A. Follesda & O. Mestad (Eds.), Human rights, corporate complicity and disinvestment (pp. 107–131). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Ross, D., & Kincaid, H. (2010). Introduction: What is addiction? In D. Ross & H. Kincaid (Eds.), What is addiction? (pp. vii–xl). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Collins, P. (2003). Gambling and the public interest. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers.Google Scholar
  22. Collins, P. (2010). Defining addiction and identifying the public interest in liberal democracies. In D. Ross, H. Kincaid, D. Spurret, et al. (Eds.), What is addiction? (pp. 410–433). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  23. Euchner, E.-M., Heichel, S., Nebel, K., et al. (2013). From morality policy to normal policy: Framing of drug consumption and gambling in Germany and the Netherlands and their regulatory consequences, in morality policies in Europe: Concepts, theories, and empirical evidence. Journal of European Public Policy, 20(3), 372–389. Special Issue: Morality Policies in Europe: Concepts, Theories, and Empirical Evidence (Knill, C. (guest editor)).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Khantzian, E. J., & Albanese, M. J. (2008) Understanding addiction as self medication: Finding hope behind the pain. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Pub Inc.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

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

Personalised recommendations