International edition
June 24, 2021

The injunction had been granted to De Lotto, runners of the Dutch lottery

Ladbrokes loses Dutch betting case

(Holland).- Ladbrokes lost a marathon legal tussle with the Dutch gaming authorities for the right to take bets from Dutch online gamblers. A verdict in the European Court of Justice marks the end of a seven year battle triggered when a Dutch court imposed an injunction preventing Ladbrokes accepting bets from Dutch citizens on its Ladbrokes.com website.

T

he injunction had been granted to De Lotto, runners of the Dutch lottery, which argued that Ladbrokes had no licence for gaming in the Netherlands.

A Ladbrokes appeal to the Dutch Supreme Court was passed to the European Court of Justice, which acknowledged that Dutch gaming legislation is technically a restriction on EU rules guaranteeing freedom of movement and freedom to provide services.

However, the judges said such a restriction "may be justified by the objectives of consumer protection and the prevention of both fraud and incitement to squander money on gambling, as well as the need to preserve public order".

In the absence of EU-level harmonisation of the online gaming industry, it was up to national authorities to decide whether on measures to protect their consumers, the judges said. "A member state is therefore entitled to take the view that the mere fact that an operator such as the Ladbrokes companies lawfully offer services in that sector via the internet in another member state is not a sufficient assurance that national consumers will be protected," said the judgment.

Ladbrokes had argued that its UK-issued licence allowing it to offer "sports-related prize competitions and other games of chance" via the internet and by telephone was sufficient to cover operations elsewhere in the EU.

The UK licence was subject to "very strict legislation for the prevention of fraud and of addiction to games of chance", pointed out Ladbrokes - and the Dutch ban on its internet services to Dutch gamblers amounted to an unnecessary "duplication of controls and safeguards".

After losing an earlier stage of the legal fight last December, Ladbrokes' managing director of remote betting and gaming, John O'Reilly, urged the judges to "uphold principles of free and fair competition across borders as there is no logic in the fact that the Dutch monopoly could freely compete against us in the UK but we are prevented from accepting bets from any Dutch resident that finds us on the internet."

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