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Ladbrokes Withdraws Lawsuit Against Norway

21st September 2009 6:13 am GMT

Ladbrokes has decided to withdraw its lawsuit against the Norwegian government regarding its application for a licence in the country, one day after Norway had said that the recent ruling of the European Court of Justice in favour of the Portuguese gaming monopoly would serve as the basis for its defence against the lawsuit.

Ladbrokes said that it did not believe that its interests were best served by continuing to pursue the case, just days before the case was due before the Borgarting Court of Appeals.

The lawsuit stems from Ladbrokes' unsuccessful licence application in 2004 to provide betting services in Norway, a decision which the company says breached the Rome treaty, EC directives and the EFTA agreement.

Ladbrokes position against Norway was bolstered by a 2007 EFTA Court ruling issued in response to a request by the Oslo District Court, which stated that games of chance provided in return for money constitute economic activities falling within the scope of EEA fundamental freedoms.

In 2008 however, the Oslo District Court ruled that Ladbrokes may not offer its services in competition with the Norwegian monopoly, which the court said offered the most effective way to protect Norwegian consumers.

Ladbrokes subsequently launched an appeal of that ruling on grounds that the Norwegian monopoly conflicts with the EU Treaty, particularly with regard to the principles of freedom of establishment and the free movement of services.

Last week Trond Giske, Norway's Minister for Culture and Church Affairs, said that the ECJ ruling of September 8th in the case between bwin and the Portuguese gaming monopoly established that EU law does not prohibit gaming monopolies.

"The verdict is an important victory for Norway and the other member countries within the European Economic Area who wish to protect their citizens against the negative aspects of gambling," said Trond Giske.

"This gives Norway very good cards in the ongoing litigation with the gaming company Ladbrokes," said Giske, the day before the announcement by Ladbrokes.

Despite the withdrawal of its lawsuit in Norway, Ladbrokes said that it will continue to pursue its cause in the Netherlands however.

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