Official Journal of the European Union

C 209/5

Judgment of the Court (Second Chamber) of 3 June 2010 (reference for a preliminary ruling from the Hoge Raad der Nederlanden — Netherlands) — Ladbrokes Betting & Gaming Ltd, Ladbrokes International Ltd v Stichting de Nationale Sporttotalisator

(Case C-258/08) (1)

(Article 49 EC - Restrictions on the freedom to provide services - Games of chance - Offer of games of chance via the internet - Legislation reserving a licence to a single operator - Refusal to grant an operating licence to an operator who is licensed in other Member States - Justification - Proportionality - Review of each specific measure applying national legislation)

2010/C 209/06

Language of the case: Dutch

Referring court

Hoge Raad der Nederlanden

Parties to the main proceedings

Applicants: Ladbrokes Betting & Gaming Ltd, Ladbrokes International Ltd

Defendant: Stichting de Nationale Sporttotalisator


Reference for a preliminary ruling — Hoge Raad der Nederlanden — Interpretation of Article 49 EC — National legislation prohibiting the unlicensed organisation of gaming and collection of bets and reserving a licence to one single operator in order to safeguard social wellbeing and public health — Refusal to issue a licence to an (internet) operator which is already licensed in other Member States, including that in which it has its registered office — overriding reasons in the public interest

Operative part of the judgment


National legislation, such as that at issue in the main proceedings, which seeks to curb addiction to games of chance and to combat fraud, and which in fact contributes to the achievement of those objectives, can be regarded as limiting betting activities in a consistent and systematic manner even where the holder(s) of an exclusive licence are entitled to make what they are offering on the market attractive by introducing new games and by means of advertising. It is for the national court to determine whether unlawful gaming activities constitute a problem in the Member State concerned which might be solved by the expansion of authorised and regulated activities, and whether that expansion is on such a scale as to make it impossible to reconcile with the objective of curbing such addiction.


For the purpose of applying legislation of a Member State on games of chance which is compatible with Article 49 EC, the national courts are not required to determine, in each case, whether the implementing measure intended to ensure compliance with that legislation is suitable for achieving the objective of that legislation and is compatible with the principle of proportionality, in so far as that measure is necessary to ensure the effectiveness of that legislation and does not include any additional restriction over and above that which arises from the legislation itself. Whether that implementing measure was adopted as a result of action by the public authorities to ensure compliance with national legislation or of an application by an individual in the context of a civil action to protect his rights under that legislation has no bearing on the outcome of the dispute before the national court.


Article 49 EC must be interpreted as not precluding legislation of a Member State, such as the legislation at issue in the main proceedings, under which exclusive rights to organise and promote games of chance are conferred on a single operator, and which prohibits any other operator, including an operator established in another Member State, from offering via the internet services within the scope of that regime in the territory of the first Member State.

(1)  OJ C 223, 30.08.2008.