Dutch Court Rejects Gambler's Claim in €100,000 Loss Case

A man who lost nearly €100,000 on an illegal gambling site will not get his money back despite legal precedents that favored claimants in similar situations.

Gambler down €100,000 loses case against illegal operator.

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Contradictory Court Rulings

This decision was handed down by the Breda court, creating a significant point of contention within the Dutch legal system. The gambler argued that the site, Bwin, which operated from Malta, was illegal under Dutch law. However, the judge in Breda ruled that although the site may have been technically illegal, the government had in practice condoned its activities.

This ruling stands in stark contrast to a decision made just a month prior by a court in Almelo. In that case, two gamblers who lost hundreds of thousands of euros were awarded their money back, as the court found that Bwin and Pokerstars operated without a proper license in the Netherlands, rendering any agreement with Dutch players void.

The discrepancy between the Breda and Almelo rulings hinges on the interpretation and enforcement of Dutch gambling laws at different times. In the Breda case, the judge noted that by 2015, some regulations were already in place for illegal gambling sites, such as a ban on using the .nl domain and the Dutch language.

Bwin adhered to these rules, which the judge interpreted as a sign of governmental condonation of its operations in the Netherlands. This nuanced view influenced the decision, suggesting that the state’s tacit acceptance of Bwin’s compliance with these limited regulations played a crucial role in the outcome.

Furthermore, the judge dismissed the gambler’s claim that Bwin neglected its duty of care. The ruling emphasized that the decision to gamble online was the individual’s responsibility and noted that the gambler had the option to set spending limits but chose not to. As a result of this ruling, the man not only lost his initial €100,000 but was also ordered to pay over €5,000 in trial costs, adding to his financial burden.

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Complexities of the Dutch Gambling Market

Benzi Loonstein, the lawyer involved in earlier successful cases against illegal operators, expressed surprise at the ruling. He pointed out that previous judgments consistently favored the claimants, which made the Breda court's decision unexpected. This divergence in legal interpretations highlights the complexities and evolving nature of regulations in the Dutch gambling market.

The Breda court’s decision underscores the importance of timing and regulatory context in legal cases involving online gambling. It also raises questions about the consistency of legal protections for consumers in the gambling sector. As the landscape of online gambling continues to change, particularly with the legalization of online gambling in the Netherlands in 2021, future cases will likely further clarify the responsibilities and liabilities of gambling operators and the protections available to gamblers.

For now, the gambler's loss remains a stark reminder of the risks involved in online gambling and the intricate legal landscape that surrounds it.


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