Dutch Minister Sides with De Lotto in Ladbrokes Case

19 November 2004

Ladbrokes and other remote gaming operators wanting to offer their services in the Netherlands have been dealt major blows in the last few weeks.

The country's Minister of Justice, who was called upon by a court in Arnhem to justify Dutch gaming laws, has declared that contrary to the Arnhem court's decision, Dutch gaming laws are consistent and coherent. Ladbrokes heard more discouraging news when the Advocate General of the Netherlands' Supreme Court offered a similar opinion.

Minister of Justice Piet Hein Donner was invoked by the Arnhem court after its ruling in June that Dutch gaming laws are not only inconsistent with their self-defined goals of limiting fraud and preventing gambling addiction, but also inconsistent with the rules set forth by the European Court of Justice in its Gambelli decision. Despite reaching those conclusions, the court declined to make a final ruling and instead requested that the Dutch gaming operator De Lotto solicit a response from the Minister of Justice, who services gaming licenses in the country.

The court stated that it wished to hear whether the minister could prove that Dutch law maintains a consistent and coherent restriction on the freedom to provide services since permitting Ladbrokes and others to offer their services over the Internet would have such broad consequences.

The minister recently offered his reaction, in which he argued that the Dutch restrictions on foreign remote gambling operators are indeed valid.

Another case between Ladbrokes and De Lotto is scheduled to appear before the Dutch Supreme Court in early 2005. As is customary, the Supreme Court's Advocate General has delivered his preliminary ruling on the case. The Advocate General's decision has no bearing on the case, but the Supreme Court usually adheres to his ruling.

The Advocate General decided in favor of De Lotto, although the ruling has not yet been translated into English and Ladbrokes isn't commenting on the details of his findings.

The Supreme Court is tentatively scheduled to make a ruling on the case in January or February, but rulings for these cases have frequently been delayed, and the same could happen in this case.

Though foreign I-gaming operators may have just lost two battles in their struggle to operate in the Netherlands, the larger war is hardly over. Betting exchange giant Betfair, along with several other online betting companies, is also entangled in legal battles for the right to operate in the Netherlands. Three separate rulings are scheduled to come down on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of next week barring delays.

Bradley Vallerius

Articles by Bradley P. Vallerius, JD manages For the Bettor Good, a comprehensive resource for information related to Internet gaming policy in the U.S. federal and state governments. For the Bettor Good provides official government documents, jurisdiction updates, policy analysis, and many other helpful research materials. Bradley has been researching and writing about the business and law of internet gaming since 2003. His work has covered all aspects of the industry, including technology, finance, advertising, taxation, poker, betting exchanges, and laws and regulations around the world.

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