Unibet, One of Two Gaming Providers in the Netherlands Compelled to Repay Gamblers


Dutch Court Orders Unlicensed Online Gambling Operators to Refund Gamblers

Published on: November 6, 2023, 06:51h.

Last updated on: November 6, 2023, 06:51h.

The Netherlands’ judicial system is cracking down on unlicensed online gambling operators. A recent court ruling has compelled two companies to reimburse gamblers for their illegal activities within the country.

Dutch flags in front of Parliament buildings
Dutch flags in front of Parliament buildings. Two gaming operators, including Unibet, will have to refund millions of dollars to customers per a court order. (Image: Shutterstock)

Previously, online gambling was illegal in the Netherlands. Despite this, several online gambling companies operated without obtaining the necessary license from the Dutch Gaming Authority.

Similar occurrences have taken place in countries like Germany and Austria, with legal actions resulting in substantial refunds for affected gamblers. However, this is the first time a Dutch judge has convicted the companies.

Tip of the Iceberg

In the recent conviction, Kindred-owned Unibet and another unidentified company failed to appear in court to defend themselves. Consequently, the court ruling was made in their absence.

The gamblers’ lawyers argued that companies acting unlawfully should not be entitled to their earnings. The judge agreed, ordering Unibet and the other company to repay €93,000 and €124,000 (US$99,863 and $133,151), respectively.

Unibet initially remained silent but has now announced its intention to challenge the ruling, sending the case back to court. However, until then, the verdict stands, holding the company responsible for complying with the court order.

Gaming operators who provided services in the Netherlands without a license should be concerned by this ruling. Similar lawsuits in Germany and Austria, employing the same legal arguments, have resulted in significant payouts.

Across both countries, nearly 7,000 court cases have been filed, with a vast majority ruling against the operators. So far, the courts’ verdicts have enabled the recovery of tens of millions of dollars from the companies.

As these judgments were rendered in absentia, they do not establish legal precedents for future cases where a defense is presented. However, individuals who lost money gambling online before October 2021 can cite these rulings if they pursue legal action.

Earlier studies have indicated that Dutch gamblers may have spent up to €500 million (US$536.9 million) on unlicensed gambling platforms. If affected gamblers come forward with verifiable claims, it could lead to the potential closure of certain gaming operators.

Unibet’s Troubles in the Netherlands

This is not the first time Unibet has faced trouble for offering online gambling services in the Netherlands. In 2019, the country’s gaming regulator, Kansspelautoriteit, fined Unibet’s parent company, Trannel International Limited, a sum of €470,000 (US$504,686).

The regulator cited Unibet.eu’s payment option through the eCommerce system iDEAL and its Dutch language chat service as evidence that the platform specifically targeted Dutch consumers.

The exclusion of the Netherlands from the list of countries restricted from participation, as stated in the terms and conditions, was also highlighted as proof.

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