19 June 2008

Ladbrokes wins referral of case to ECJ

Ladbrokes, the world's leading bookmaker, today welcomed the decision of the Dutch Supreme Court to refer its case to the ECJ. The appeal related to an injunction taken out in 2002 that prevents Ladbrokes from accepting sports bets from Dutch citizens on Ladbrokes.com.

The court's decision means that the European law issues which are fundamental to the case, relating to the right under the Treaty of Rome for a well regulated online betting company to offer its services across borders will now be heard by Europe's highest court.

Ladbrokes Managing Director of eGaming John O'Reilly commented: "We have fought for 6 years against Dutch protectionism and finally we have won the referral to the European Court of Justice. At last the Dutch courts have recognised that its laws on betting must be viewed in the context of European law. Under the Treaty of Rome we should be able to provide our services across borders in competition with the Dutch monopoly, but at the moment we are unfairly prevented from doing so."

The Dutch Court has referred the following three questions to the European Court of Justice to guide them on how they should deal with the case in the context of European law.

1. Under European case law (Gambelli etc) is it allowed to make the offering of gambling attractive through the introduction of new games and through publicity in order to keep (potential) gamblers away from illegal offerings?

2. Does the national judge in each case have to decide whether the application of the national policy re gambling (e.g. in this case an order to block a website) in each specific case is justified?

3. Can a member state on the basis of a closed licence system prevent the offering of gambling via the internet by a company who has a licence in another member state?

Ladbrokes has previously complained to the EU Commission about the situation in the Netherlands where it has been restricted from accepting Dutch customers at www.ladbrokes.com despite the fact it does not advertise in the Netherlands or offer a Dutch language service. The Netherlands is one of the countries that may be referred to the ECJ by the EU Commission, which instigated proceedings against the Netherlands in 2006 citing concerns about Dutch laws restricting access to its gambling and sports betting markets.

press release of Ladbrokes

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