Betfair has started legal action against the Dutch government

Betfair, one of the world's top online betting companies, has started legal action against the Dutch government in a court case which could result in a claim for damages running into millions of Euros, the company has announced.

The decision follows a letter from the Dutch Ministry of Justice urging Dutch banks not to process payments from any Dutch customers wishing to place a bet on any legal gaming website . The measure would block access to the services of Betfair and many other UK licensed operators.

Mark Davies, Managing Director at Betfair, said: "This is a desperate move by the Dutch government to prevent a company that is fully licensed and regulated in jurisdictions across Europe from being accessed by residents in the Netherlands. Its actions are against the interests of the Dutch consumer and fly in the face of the EU principles of open and fair competition. This serves only to protect the Dutch government's own gaming monopoly and keep prices high.

"It is madness that the Netherlands, as one of the founding members of the single market, has resorted to illegal tactics that prevent consumer choice and go against the Treaty.

"The government's objective of shutting out foreign operators while feather-bedding domestic monopolies, one a big US multinational, and protect a cosy cartel cannot be allowed to continue. We will fight this. We will fight anyone who unlawfully prevents us and our customers from doing business."

Betfair has also made a formal complaint to the European Commission stating that the government's action unlawfully protects the Dutch gaming monopoly and violates EC laws concerning the free movement of services within the EU.

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