A group of Dutch gamblers have filed a lawsuit demanding their losses back from the online platforms they used to place their wagers during the country’s grey market era.
Online gambling was not regulated in the Netherlands until October 2021 and the gamblers argue that makes their player/operator contracts at the time void.
The group of about 100 gamblers is represented by lawyer Benzi Loonstein, who specialises in claims against gambling operators that have, according to him, “violated their duty of care or who have illegally offered their services”.
The case was initially brought to the operators out of court by Loonstein, but they did not settle. There will now be a public hearing, with the first four summons already issued.
Kindred, the parent company of Dutch gambling operator Unibet, brushed off the case, saying that it was nothing more than a law firm seeking revenue. Kindred also cited a case in 2016 which ruled against the player who brought a company to court in similar circumstances. At that time, the court ruled that operators were operating in a grey market.
However, in 2021, the Council of State ruled in a separate case that operating online games before October 1, 2021 was against Dutch law.
Austria and Germany have both recently dealt with the same legal issues, with similar cases often ruled in favour of the plaintiffs, especially in Austria.
In September 2021, the Austrian Supreme Court ruled that as foreign online casino operators are illegal, the contracts they have with players are not valid. The operator in question, Entain’s bwin, had to pay out €1.1m.
Similarly, in May, Frankfurt’s Higher Regional Court ruled that a Gibraltar-based online casino had to repay €26,000 to a gambler who used its site before gambling became legal in the region.
A few weeks ago in Cologne, Flutter’s PokerStars was ordered to pay back €58,000 to players. The case was built on the fact that the operator did not make the legal status of its website at the time clear enough online to players.
For now, whether the success indebted players have had in Austria and Germany will extend to the Dutch legal system remains to be seen.
The Dutch Online Gambling Association (NOGA) had no comment on the news as it said it was not privy to the particulars of the case.