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Judges back Holland against Ladbrokes on online gaming

Dutch say schtop

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Ladbrokes has lost a long-running restriction of trade case against the De Lotto - the Dutch lottery and sports betting site - which objected to the company taking bets from Dutch citizens.

The European Court of Justice has ruled that national authorities may restrict internet gaming if they so wish because laws on this issue have yet to be harmonised across the European Union. The court heard from various governments as well as the two companies.

The court said that even if a company was offering sports-related games of chance in one country, quite legally, it would be difficult for authorities in another country to ensure their citizens were protected from fraud.

Dutch authorities are also concerned about gambling addiction. The Dutch Supreme Court ruled that Ladbrokes must stop taking bets from Dutch people in 2005. As a result Ladbrokes had to refuse bets from Dutch IP addresses, which it regarded as a restriction of trade. But the ECJ did note that this concern seemed at odds with a regulatory framework which allowed advertising from De Lotto.

Dutch betting and gaming providers are strictly regulated and licensed - De Lotto is the main provider.

John O’Reilly, Managing Director of Ladbrokes eGaming, said: “The Ladbrokes and Betfair cases have clearly demonstrated the fragility of the entire Dutch legal framework in relation to gambling... Other EU countries have introduced new licensing and regulation systems that embrace competition - it is now time for the Netherlands to do the same.”

The summary judgement is here. ®

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