Court ruling over internet gaming

The battle between private betting companies and EU countries which operate state-owned gaming systems took a new twist yesterday when a senior adviser at Europe's top court said it was up to the local courts to decide whether Portugal acted legally in extending its gambling monopoly to internet-based betting.

An advocate-general at the European Court of Justice said the Portuguese decision to ban online gaming operators based outside the country could be legal if it met conditions including a public interest test and necessary protection of consumers.

Private gaming companies argue that restrictions keeping them out of certain countries breach principles of free and fair trade.

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