he firm has been embroiled in a legal dispute with the Netherlands government since 2004 over the company’s right to offer gambling services to Dutch citizens under Article 49 of the European Treaty.
In a case which is expected to last for two years, Betfair will argue that it is entitled to accept bets from the Netherlands because Dutch residents are allowed to bet online with the Dutch state operator. The company believes that to be told it cannot accept bets without a Dutch license, after being twice denied the opportunity to apply for such licenses by the Dutch State, is legally unsustainable. Betfair currently operates in Europe under license from the UK and Malta.
The Council of State has asked the ECJ to consider three issues. Whether the Dutch State is obliged under the terms of Article 49 to recognize Betfair's EU license; whether the Dutch State can offer a single monopoly license in the way that it has; and whether it can refuse applications from other interested parties to apply for that license when it comes up for renewal.
Commenting on the referral to the ECJ, Betfair's Legal Director Martin Cruddace said: “This case relates to equal treatment of candidates under the law, to the transparency of the application procedure for licenses, and ultimately to whether Europe operates a properly regulated free market or a monopoly system which far from protecting consumers, fails them.
"As a strongly-regulated, tax-paying British company, with fraud, anti-money laundering and social policy protections which are world-leading, we should be allowed to compete properly for business in the EU. We are delighted that the case has been referred to the European Court."