Betfair to Apply for Dutch Licence

Jun 03, 2010, 09:05 ET from Betfair

LONDON, June 3, 2010 /PRNewswire/ --

- European Court of Justice Says Online Betting Licences Must be Awarded in a Fair and Transparent Manner

Betfair will be applying for a licence in the Netherlands at the first opportunity following the decision published by the European Court of Justice this morning.

The court's confirmation of Betfair's long-held belief that sports betting licences in the EU should be allocated in a transparent and equal manner allows Dutch consumers to benefit from competitive bids for the Dutch market.

However, the ruling did not reflect the realities of online betting, stating that any online offering other than the incumbent monopoly can be restricted irrespective of whether the operator is licensed in another EU Member State. Betfair maintains that making a distinction between different EU licensed operators is confusing for consumers and is therefore out of step with present-day e-commerce.

The Court's reiteration of points from previous cases that online betting is more dangerous than traditional offline forms is made without foundation.

Betfair's Director of European Public Affairs, Tim Phillips, said: "Today's judgment once again demonstrates the need for the European Commission to take a lead on this issue, so that we can separate fact from fiction and settle the online gambling debate once and for all.

"Recent rulings from the ECJ have not addressed key consumer concerns and unfortunately today's in the cases of Betfair and Ladbrokes are no different. Whilst the confirmation that licences must be allocated fairly is a new and welcome development, these rulings do not address the realities of online betting.

"Until we get a clear lead from the Commission, gambling consumers will continue to be told that their preferred leisure activity is the only one in Europe which doesn't benefit from an open market. ECJ rulings are not addressing the simple fact that consumer choice between regulated products is being dictated to in a manner which no other industry has to accept."

"The European Commission's announcement of a Green Paper on online gambling provides an opportunity to address these key issues."

This ruling acts as guidance for the Dutch court, which must now consider what has been provided by the ECJ and reach a final decision on the case. That is expected towards the end of 2010. This ruling has no impact on Betfair's operational position in the Netherlands.

    The Dutch Council of State asked the ECJ to consider three issues:

    - Whether the Dutch State, which has a closed licensing system for sports
    betting, is entitled to prohibit an operator such as Betfair, which is
    licensed in another Member State, from accepting Dutch customers;

    - Whether the Dutch State can offer a single monopoly licence in the way
    that it has, bearing in mind the ECJ case law on Article 56 and the
    principles of equal treatment and transparency in relation to the
    allocation of licences; and

    - Whether the Dutch State, having offered a single monopoly licence for
    five years, can then refuse applications from other interested parties to
    apply to hold that licence when the licence comes up for renewal.

About Betfair: (http://www.betfair.com)

Betfair is the world's biggest online sports betting company and pioneered the first successful betting exchange in 2000. Driven by cutting-edge technology, Betfair enables customers to choose their own odds and bet even after the event has started. The company now processes over six million transactions a day from its three million registered customers around the world. In addition to sports betting, Betfair offers a portfolio of innovative products including casino, exchange games and poker.

Betfair has twice been named the UK's 'Company of the Year' by the Confederation of British Industry and has won two prestigious Queen's Awards for Enterprise, being recognised for Innovation in 2003 and most recently for International Trade in 2008.

Betfair currently employs over 2,300 people, principally in London, Malta and Australia. The company is a licensed betting operator in the UK, and holds further licenses in Tasmania, Austria, Italy and Malta.

    For further information:
    Mike Robb, Betfair
    michael.robb@betfair.com
    Tel: +44(0)844-871-0821


SOURCE Betfair