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Lotto monopoly questioned in The Netherlands

Monopolies on sports betting and lottery scratch cards are to remain in The Netherlands, but The Council of the State, the nation’s highest administrative court, has ordered a rethink of its lottery monopoly.

Following an appeal by the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA), alongside international gambling firms Unibet, Betclic and Betfair, the council ruled that the existence of only a sole sports betting license, strictly for offline purposes, was justified.

Nederlandse Loterij, formerly Lotto BV, is the recipient of the permit, with the council acknowledging that its single licence system runs contrary to The Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), by restricting the freedom to provide services.

Justifying its decision however, the council stated “the objectives of the Dutch gaming policy are to prevent gambling addiction, to protect the consumer and to prevent crime and illegality”.

The Dutch gaming regulator, Kansspelautoriteit, will have to justify why it restricts licenses for lotto games though, while it grants multiple licenses for other forms of gambling, including charity lotteries, after finding the existence of only one lotto license to be insufficiently justified.

Maarten Haijer, Secretary General of the EGBA, commented: “The Council of State ruling is correct to question the justification of the Dutch Gaming Authority’s decision to grant a monopoly for lotto products.

“Today’s ruling not only underlines the fundamental importance of transparent licensing procedures but also underlines the need for the modernisation of the Dutch gambling laws and the regulation of the online gambling market which is unaffected by the Council’s ruling.

“A regulated online gambling offer is the only means to secure maximum channeling of Dutch customers, which the Council of State correctly identifies as the key policy instrument to obtain the best consumer protection.

“We continue to support the ongoing legislative process to regulate the online gambling market as experience from other EU countries shows that a multi-license system is best able to channel consumers to the regulated offer in the online environment.”

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