Does Ladbrokes Have Good Lawyers?

25 October 2006

After losing its appeal case in the Netherlands, Ladbrokes last week announced that it will issue a complaint to the EU Commissioner for the Internal Market, Charlie McCreevy.

John O'Reilly, Ladbrokes' managing director remote betting and gaming, said the company will also attempt to reverse the decision in the Dutch Supreme Court.

Dutch Lotto Director Tjeerd Veenstra, a fierce opponent of O'Reilly, believes that Ladbrokes is not very well informed in the Dutch court procedures.

Regarding the attempt to reverse the Dutch decision, Veenstra commented, "I really wonder if Ladbrokes and their lawyers know what they are talking about. The Supreme Court of the Netherlands examines only whether the lower court observed proper application of the law in reaching its decision. At this stage, the facts of the case as established by the lower court are no longer subject to discussion. So, in my opinion that verdict is final."

Concerning the MiCreevy complaint, Veenstra says Ladbrokes is beating a dead horse.

"Ladbrokes lodged a complaint during the summary procedure of the Dutch Lotto vs. Ladbrokes case in April this year," he said. "McCreevy started up the infringement procedure based on the same complaint, and all related court cases and verdicts were all negative for Ladbrokes. So it is now nonsense to start with the same complaint again."

The Dutch government months ago sent its reaction on the infringement procedure to Brussels, and Veenstra is very optimistic concerning the outcome of the Dutch procedure for the European Commission.

Ladbrokes obviously sees things differently.

"We will be appealing to the Supreme Court because the Dutch courts have failed to take EU law into account when reaching their decision," Ciaran O'Brian, Ladbrokes' head of PR, explained. "The EU Treaty and EU case law support our position and we will continue to assert our right to compete with De Lotto. The fact that they insist on an injunction despite the fact that we do not advertise in Holland or offer a Dutch language service shows the lengths they are willing to go to in protecting their monopoly position.

"In the past, Dutch consumers sought out the better value available with Ladbrokes, and this is what this case is about--a monopoly operator protecting its privileged status. We will reiterate our complaint to the EU, as the Dutch state is legally responsible for the misinterpretation of community law by the Dutch courts."

O'Brian also commented on the EU case. "The Commission is still considering whether Dutch law is compatible with EU law," he said, "and this further example of protectionism is bound to be of interest to the Commission."

The lawyers are always winning.

By the way, last week Betfair and Interwetten appealed their Dutch court cases in the Netherlands.

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.