Sweden can ban gambling ads by private, for-profit operators from abroad, according to a ruling by the highest court of the European Union.

Validating Sweden’s state-sponsored gambling monopoly, and dealing a blow to the EU’s commercial online operators, the European Court of Justice ruled that the “Swedish legislation which prohibits the promotion [advertising] of gambling organised on the Internet by private operators in other Member States for profit is consistent with Community law”.

In support, the court cited its 2009 ruling in a similar case involving Portugal’s sports betting monopoly.

Significantly, the court stated in the Sweden case that Member States have the right to “exclude private profit-making interests from the gambling sector” and “may restrict the operation of gambling to public or charitable bodies”.

Friedrich Stickler, president of European Lotteries, hailed the ruling:

“The Court has given full backing to the gambling model we stand for, a model from which the whole of society benefits. It has once again rejected the arguments of the many private online gambling operators which pursue purely commercial interests.”