Page last updated at 15:36 GMT, Thursday, 3 June 2010 16:36 UK

Online gambling blocks backed by European court

The court cited the need to prevent the "incitement to squander money"

Online gambling in the EU can be restricted by national governments, according to a new ruling.

The European Court of Justice found Dutch authorities were right to block their residents from using UK-based Ladbrokes and Betfair's online betting.

The Dutch national lottery company holds an exclusive licence to offer sports-related gambling.

As EU laws on online gambling have not been harmonised, the court said the firms' UK licences were not relevant.

The court added that Dutch licensing rules were justified, so long as they met "the objectives of consumer protection and the prevention of both fraud and incitement to squander money on gambling, as well as the need to preserve public order".


The Dutch licensing arrangement effectively gives its lottery company - de Lotto - a monopoly over sports gambling.

The profits earned by de Lotto are used to fund various public projects, particularly in public health and sports.

However, the decision leaves the door open for the two betting firms to challenge the exclusive licence granted to de Lotto in the Dutch courts.

"This is about the Dutch protecting revenues, and not about protecting people from the negative issues of gambling," said Ciaran O'Brien, spokesman for Ladbrokes.

The Dutch would need to prove that de Lotto's monopoly helped to prevent fraud or reduce the social ills associated with gambling.

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