Dutch Court Trashes Lottery, Betting Monopoly

March 1, 2024
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The East Brabant District Court has ruled that Dutch gambling regulation is not “horizontally consistent” because it allows multiple licences to be awarded for online casino and other forms of gambling, but restricts betting shops and instant lotteries to a single operator.
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A first instance court has said that the Dutch national lottery operator should be forced to give up its monopoly over scratchcards and land-based sport betting.

The East Brabant District Court has ruled that Dutch gambling regulation is not “horizontally consistent” because it allows multiple licences to be awarded for online casino and other forms of gambling, but restricts betting shops and instant lotteries to a single operator.

Nederlandse Loterij BV has an exclusive right to offer both lottery and land-based betting products in the Netherlands. According to the court, two operators which applied for instant lottery and betting licences respectively were denied by the Dutch Gambling Authority (KSA) on those grounds.

The two operators were not named in court documents published on Thursday (February 29), but the Brabants Dagblad newspaper identified one operator as JVH Gaming - a Dutch operator of land-based gaming halls which also holds online licences. JVH was contesting the betting shop monopoly, the paper said.

The court said that existing gambling market regulations, where one form of gambling is offered through multiple licences while another is restricted to just one operator, cannot be justified under EU free trade rules.

The regulator, the court said, should not have refused to consider JVH and the other plaintiff's application.

“The KSA has not made it plausible that a single licence system for the [lottery and betting] games of chance is still necessary under the current games of chance policy. 

“The provisions of the Gambling Act, on which the refusals are based, are contrary to the freedom to provide services laid down in Article 56 of the TFEU,” the court said in a statement.

The regulator "is aware of the ruling and is now looking at how to move forward", a spokesperson for the KSA told Vixio GamblingCompliance.

A spokesperson for Nederlandse Loterij said: “We are studying the ruling and a possible follow-up.”

Peter-Paul de Goeij, the managing director of online gambling trade group NOGA, welcomed the court’s decision.

“This ruling is correct and is in line with our understanding of horizontal consistency,” he told Vixio. 

“The legality of the monopoly system has been undone,” he said, calling it “long overdue”, but noted that there may yet be several appeals before the matter is truly settled.

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