Betfair Puts Dutch Ladbrokes Ruling to the Test

15 October 2004

The implications of a favorable ruling for Ladbrokes in its legal battle against De Lotto, the Netherlands' state-run lottery operator, could be felt in coming weeks when a Dutch court delivers a verdict for a similar case involving Betfair.

In a case brought by De Lotto, a Dutch court ruled in February that Betfair, the world's leading betting exchange, was operating illegally in the Netherlands. Betfair has appealed, and the case--based on the procedure on the merits of De Lotto vs. Ladbrokes--was heard Monday.

The judge in the Ladbrokes in June rejected De Lotto's attempt to block Ladbrokes from offering online gambling services to Dutch residents, but De Lotto holds the opinion that the judge wrongly assumed that the games-of-chance policy in the Netherlands is not "Gambelli-Proof."

De Lotto argues that providers like Betfair are sensitive to fraud and other criminal activity, while Betfair maintains that it can block fraud and locate and prosecute criminals.

Justin Franssen, a lawyer for Betfair, argued Monday that the February decision of the appeal court in the summary proceedings of the Betfair/De Lotto case should be annulled because of the subsequent Ladbrokes verdict of the procedure on the merits. The Ladbrokes verdict, he said, takes precedence, so the judge in the Betfair case, thus, has no option other than annulment.

Betfair also argues that that the Dutch games-of-chance policy is contrary to E.U. rules and jurisprudence. Above that, the company's lawyers argue that there are contradicting articles within the games-of-chance law that should lead to the fact that Betfair is not "giving the opportunity" to gamble in the Netherlands.

A verdict for the Betfair case is expected in November.

Rob van der Gaast has a background in sports journalism. He worked for over seven years as the head of sports for Dutch National Radio and has developed new concepts for the TV and the gambling industry. Now he operates from Istanbul as an independent gambling research analyst. He specializes in European gambling matters and in privatizations of gambling operators. Rob has contributed to IGN since Jul 09, 2001.