Dutch Gambling Monopolies Get EU Court Backing

Written by Michael F. on 2009-12-18 at 10:49
Dutch gambling laws - GamingZion
A seven-year court battle between foreign gambling operators and the Dutch state is starting to come to fruition. Companies such as UK operators Ladbrokes and Betfair have been fighting for years to offer their online sportsbooks in the Netherlands. They have faced strict opposition from the Dutch state monopoly De Lotto, which currently controls all sports betting operations in the country. For years the EU has been pressuring the Dutch government to dissolve the monopoly, insisting that by not allowing foreign operators to offer their services within the Netherlands, the country is breaking EU fair trade rules.

The tables, however, may now be turning in the other direction. Yves Bot, a senior legal advisor at the European Court of Justice, recently made a non-binding statement suggesting that European Union member states are not in any way required to recognize the betting licenses of foreign companies. Ladbrokes and other foreign sportsbook operators have in the past relied on the fact that they already operate massive online betting operations in countries around the world as leverage to entice the Dutch government to grant them a license to offer internet betting in the Netherlands. Now in light of this recent statement from a major EU court, this might not be a valid approach any longer.

The Dutch government refuses to embrace foreign gambling operators under a rubric of public safety. They believe that by tightly controlling all sports betting and other gambling in the country, they are effectively keeping problem gambling under wraps. Bot further suggested that this justification might be enough to keep foreign gambling companies out.

Ladbrokes managing director John O’Reilly states, “There is no logic in the fact that the Dutch monopoly could freely compete against us in the U.K., but we are prevented from accepting bets from any Dutch resident that finds us on the Internet.”

No official ruling has been made, though in the past EU court has made a decision within six months after such a statement by an advocate general.

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