Protecting gaming industry via EU law
The Gauselmann Group, one of the largest producers and operators of games of chance in Europe, called on Alber & Geiger when faced with a number of threatening gambling regulations in several Member States – the impact of which would have been devastating. Alber & Geiger had to convince the European Commission to make a counterintuitive political risk in confronting a powerful Member State, Germany. The precariousness of EU competence over gambling law, when compared to the centuries of incrementally developed German gambling norms, would have stalled most legal professionals. We had to fill in the gaps of the law and concurrently convince the European Commission that our interpretation would stand up to CJEU scrutiny. Also, on behalf of the Gauselmann Group, we were called upon to limit and remove the effects of the legislation on the prevention of the use of the financial system for the purpose of money laundering or terrorist financing on legitimate gambling activity. In addition, we were tasked with similar national Member States’ gambling laws and their potential breach of EU law, namely in Austria, Hungary, Netherlands, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.
EU competence and national gambling laws
Given the limited scope of directly ascertainable EU competence, the strategy had to delve deeply into the substantive legal framework underlying EU competence and gambling law. It employed an abstracted analytical formula to show that the various regulations were legally incoherent. It demonstrated that the laws of the Member States contradicted their own main goals on a substantive level. It utilized the jurisprudential architecture of the CJEU in lieu of their crystallization. The multifaceted strategy also incorporated an economic dimension. It showed the long-term macro-consequences of the legal uncertainty and incoherence, caused by the indefinite prolonging of the ‘Gentlemen’s Agreement’ with Germany. Concurrently, the same technique allowed us to demonstrate that the money laundering directive could not arbitrarily encompass all the gambling operators without distinction of risk volume and activity. On both front we showed that private gambling halls and gambling machines should not be singled out.
Upholding the internal market rules
Sophisticated EU Lobbyists
Ultimately, we managed to convince the European Commission to act. Its omission to launch infringement proceedings had been rebuked. Alber & Geiger was able to safeguard fundamental liberties and freedoms by bringing EU instruments into a new field and challenging archaic but powerful structures. We were also able to hold the scope of the money laundering directive back, establishing a distinction between casinos and other gambling operators. The fluidity of Alber & Geiger’s grasp of CJEU methodology and its jurisprudential entrepreneurship allowed it to reconstitute a fair balance in the internal market.