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Dutch Courts Order Repayment by PokerStars and BWin for Unlicensed Operations

In a significant legal development, Dutch courts have mandated foreign gambling giants Bwin and PokerStars to repay substantial sums lost by Dutch gamblers. This ruling stems from the companies' operation without licenses in the Netherlands during the periods in which the plaintiffs utilized their services.

Dutch Courts Order Repayment by PokerStars and BWin for Unlicensed Operations

Two distinct cases emerged, one involving an individual from Staphorst and the other from Almelo, both experiencing significant financial losses through Bwin and PokerStars platforms, respectively. The Staphorst resident lost €187,000 between 2018 and 2019, while the Almelo gambler suffered losses totaling €217,000 between 2006 and 2021. Crucially, neither company held the necessary licenses to operate within the Dutch market during these periods.


The legal landscape surrounding online gambling in the Netherlands has been murky until April 1, 2021, with the government withholding permits despite the industry's growth. This issue was highlighted as far back as 2012 when the Supreme Court ruled on the illegality of international gambling companies' offerings. However, enforcement remained challenging due to the global nature of the internet.


The courts' decisions to order repayments were solely grounded in factual evidence—the absence of requisite licenses for legal operation within the Dutch market. This deficiency led to the nullification of agreements made with Dutch customers, compelling the gambling providers to reimburse incurred losses.

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Lawyer Benzi Loonstein, representing numerous affected individuals, views this ruling as a watershed moment likely to spur further legal action against similar service providers. He underscores the companies' negligence in fulfilling their duty of care towards consumers, citing the ease of access and the absence of protective measures against potential harm.

Loonstein drew parallels to the drug market in terms of scale and provider anonymity to highlight the need for stricter regulatory oversight and accountability in the online gambling sector. These cases underscore the responsibilities that online gambling companies bear towards their users, with Dutch courts firmly advocating for licensing and compliance in the industry.



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