Dutch gambling laws are not forgiving when it comes to betting on sports over the internet. Technically, players in the Netherlands are welcome to gamble on the internet as long as the sites they use the government’s official sports betting website, which is operated by De Lotto and connected with the Dutch National Lottery. Beyond this, there are no other online sportsbooks in Netherlands, so players do not have access to much local variety.
This has naturally encouraged Dutch players to use foreign internet sportsbooks – a practice that the government is not happy about at all. The Dutch government has been struggling for years to keep foreign internet gambling sites out of the country, and now the battle has finally moved to the courtroom.
Two major UK internet sportsbooks, Ladbrokes and Betfair, were both involved in court cases against the Dutch government this past week. The hearings, which were held in the European Court of Justice, are essentially arguments involving EU trade laws. These sports betting sites insist that they have the right to offer their services to all citizens of the European Union, including Dutch bettors.
The Dutch government has actually filed an injunction against Ladbrokes for offering their services to bettors in the Netherlands. The case with Betfair is slightly different, and involves a complaint against a letter distributed by the Dutch government to banks across the Netherlands, demanding that they block any financial transactions involving Betfair and other foreign betting groups.
The attitude of Dutch authorities is not hard to understand – the government in the Netherlands currently holds a monopoly over all sports betting in the country, and they want to keep it that way. This stance, however, cannot be justified under European Union free trade laws. These cases are expected to proceed well into next year, and rulings may not be seen for many months. In the meantime, Dutch bettors continue to bet on sports over the internet, often wherever they please.