More litigation on Dutch gambling policies


Betfair and Ladbrokes challenge the monopolistic approach

Two major legal battles against the Dutch penchant for state monopolised gambling start this week in the European Court of Justice.

Top online gambling firms Betfair and Ladbrokes spearhead the actions, which are related to the right of Internet gambling companies to compete in the locally restricted market despite Holland being a member nation in the European Union.

The Betfair action is against the Dutch government's attempt to persuade Dutch banks to disrupt player financial transactions with online companies like Betfair, with the betting group claiming that such actions are in breach of the EU principle of free passage of goods and services. If successful, the action will pave the way for a compensatory claim against the Dutch that could run into millions of Euros.

The Ladbrokes case is a more drawn-out affair and goes back some 7 years to an injunction against Ladbrokes issued by local Dutch courts that seeks to prevent the British company from taking bets from Dutch residents, again in conflict with EU principles. The case was referred to the European Court of Justice earlier this year and Ladbrokes hopes to bring matters to a final conclusion in Europe's highest court.

Dutch hopes may be pinned on the recent Bwin action against the Portuguese state gambling monopoly, in which the ECJ ruled that bans on external competition based on a genuine need to protect nationals for moral and anti-crime considerations are permissible.

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