Ladbrokes And Betfair Lose Online Battle Against Dutch Government

Online gaming companies suffered a major setback today, after the Advocate-general of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) said that European Union member states are legally entitled to allow a single operator to run betting and gaming operations within their own country.
The opinion comes as a blow to Ladbrokes Plc and Betfair Ltd’s seven year struggle to claim the right to offer their online gaming services in the Netherlands.
The online gaming companies had initially insisted that they were upholding their rights to “freedom of movement” but the ECJ justified its decision as necessary in order to protect consumers and prevent fraud. 
Following the announcement, Ladbrokes’ John O’Reilly said,” We continue to believe that the ECJ should uphold principles of free and fair competition across borders as there is no logic in the fact that the Dutch monopoly could freely compete against us in the UK but we are prevented from accepting bets from any Dutch resident that finds us on the Internet.”
Although Advocate-generals’ opinions are not legally binding on the ECJ, in most cases his opinion is adhered to, with a ruling expected within six months. 
April Carr, from EU law firm Olswang commented: “This will be disappointing for those online operators who thought they could rely on EU law to liberalise the gaming markets. If the opinion is followed by the European Courts then there is reduced scope for them opening markets.”

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