Thursday June 14,2012 : BWIN LOSES ACTION AGAINST BLACKLISTING IN BELGIUM (Update)
Court of First Instance refuses request for removal from banned operators list
The major European online gambling operator Bwin suffered a setback in a Belgian law court this week when its litigation attacking the validity of the Belgian government's controversial blacklist-and-ban strategy to protect the local market was thrown out.
Bwin claimed that it suffered "enormous financial, commercial and reputational damage" as a result of being blacklisted and blocked from Belgian online gamblers on the orders of the Belgian Ministry of Justice and the regulatory Gaming Commission.
Bwin managed to get the issue, which also impacts around 30 other top European gambling groups, into the courts in short order, filing its case shortly after the ban and blacklist was implemented on May 9 this year .
After some preliminary legal skirmishing on May 25 the issue came before the Court of First Instance in Brussels this week, which rejected the Bwin argument as having ‘no legal merit'.
It is not known if Bwin intends to pursue the issue further; the company has taken a strong line on Belgium's discriminatory online gambling licensing requirements, which it says fly in the face of EU law, and continued to service its Belgian players despite general industry warnings by the government.
The relationship was probably not improved when Bwin demanded damages for lost business for every day that the Belgian Gaming Commission kept it on the blacklist, prompting the Commission to counter sue with a similar claim regarding Bwin's ‘illegal' activities.
The court has not supported the Commission's financial claims in this regard despite backing it on the blacklist.
Given the direction of questioning last week by the Nevada Gaming Control Board regarding the historic participation of licence applicants in legally uncertain or forbidden international markets, Bwin's response when it appears before the board – and the board's reaction – will certainly be observed with interest.