Friday, February 18, 2005Contact: Maurits Bruggink
Dutch Supreme Court confirms ban on online gaming

The Dutch Supreme Court today confirmed that Gibraltar based online bookmaker Ladbrokes should stop taking bets from Dutch citizen.

The ruling ends a 2-year legal battle between Ladbrokes and the Dutch lotto. The Dutch lotto started litigation in 2002 against various of the many off-shore gambling websites that accepted Dutch customers. The ruling by the Supreme Court today should end any doubt about the legal situation with respect to gambling websites: they are unauthorised according to Dutch law and can therefore not operate on the Dutch market.

The claim by Ladbrokes that the Dutch gambling monopoly would be against the free movement of services has been rejected. Recent European case law (e.g. "Gambelli" ruling by the European Court of Justice) has been interpreted by various gambling operators as a confirmation that gambling services could benefit from the EU Internal Market. The Dutch Supreme Court, however, is of a different view and found that the Dutch restrictive gambling policies is in conformity with European case law.

This ruling will likely be followed by the Dutch courts in the other legal cases against unauthorised online gaming operators. Moreover, the courts interpretation of the European case law will also set an example for courts in other parts of the European Union. The IFHA cheers the Dutch ruling, as it confirms the principle of national integrity on gambling legislation.

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