Gambler down €100,000 loses case against illegal operator

A man who lost almost €100,000 on an illegal gambling site will not get his money back despite legal precedents to the contrary.

The man claimed that the gambling site Bwin, operated from Malta, was illegal in the Netherlands. However, the judge at the Breda court ruled that the site may have been illegal according to the letter of the law, but that in practice the government condoned its activities.

The ruling contradicts that of a court in Almelo which only last month said that two gamblers who lost hundreds of thousands of euros before online gambling became legal in 2021 were to get their money back.

The judge in that case ruled that the operators involved, Bwin and Pokerstars, did not have a licence to operate on the Dutch market and that any agreement between them and the Dutch players was therefore void.

In the Breda case, the judge said timing had played a role in the decision. In 2015, when the man lost his money, there were already some rules for illegal sites, for instance a ban on the affix .nl and the use of Dutch. Bwin abided by those rules and that meant the state was condoning its operation on Dutch soil, he said.

The gambler also said Bwin neglected its duty of care towards him but the judge said the decision to gamble online was his as well, and that he could have put a limit on his spending.

The man was told to pay over €5,000 in trial costs.
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