Dutch Court Sends I-gaming Dispute to ECJ

16 June 2008

The Supreme Court of the Netherlands has ruled that UK bookmaker Ladbrokes may not legally offer gambling products via the Internet to people in the Netherlands. The matter is not settled, however, for the Court has referred Ladbrokes' appeal to the European Court of Justice to determine whether a prohibition on Internet gambling is compatible with European law.

"This is not a done deal," Judge Ernst Numann told Bloomberg News. "It's the question if the ban on offering gambling in the Netherlands without a permit is in line with European law."

Ladbrokes views the development as a major success.

"We have fought for six years against Dutch protectionism and finally we have won the referral to the ECJ," John O'Reilly, head of Ladbrokes' e-gaming division told the Financial Times. "At last the Dutch courts have recognized that its laws on betting must be viewed in the context of European law."

A ruling from the ECJ on the issue should not be expected for at least a year, but the referral could possibly influence the European Commission in its treatment of cross border gambling disputes.

The EC is expected to deliver in the next two weeks a decision on whether to initiate proceedings in the ECJ against the Netherlands and nine other Member States that restrict foreign competition in gambling services.