EGBA welcomes Dutch court ruling on licensing transparency
The highest administrative court in the Netherlands has ruled that the country’s licensing procedures for gambling must be verified on their compliance with EU law.
The Dutch Council of State, the highest administrative court in the Netherlands, has today issued a legal ruling stipulating that the country’s existing procedures for the allocation of gambling licenses must be verified on their compliance with the requirements of EU rules on the freedom to provide services. The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) welcomes the ruling, which reconfirms – to the extent necessary – the application of basic requirements of EU law in the area of gambling.
Two legal challenges, one brought by Trannel, a subsidiary of Kindred Group, argued that the country’s procedures for allocating online gambling licenses unfairly advantaged incumbent license holders because the requirements were impossible to meet for any party, other than a company which already had a license. Kindred Group issued the challenge following its decision to withdraw an application for a totalizer license, after concluding that the country’s licensing procedure was discriminatory against companies who did not already have a license.
The court ruled that the licensing procedure in the Netherlands must allow companies the right to object to the outcome of the procedure, regardless if they have a license application pending or not. The ruling overturns an earlier decision by the administrative court of The Hague which had found in favour of the Dutch Gambling Authority (De Kansspelautoriteit – KSA), which argued that without a licensing application, gambling companies have no material interest in the legal compliance of the licensing procedure.
The KSA must now reassess the original complaint and ensure its licensing procedures are compliant with EU rules on the freedom to provide services.
“We welcome the ruling by the Dutch highest court, which ensures that the KSA will need to verify whether its existing procedures for licensing allocation comply with EU law. These are basic requirements of the European legal order which the Council of State reconfirms in its ruling. We are looking forward to the assessment of the KSA regarding the transparency and fairness of its current licensing procedure.” – Maarten Haijer, Secretary General, EGBA.