The Dutch government could be provoking a European Commission reaction with its latest move – an attempt to get the banks involved in excluding companies from other EU nations from the gambling market in the Netherlands.
Over the weekend, a Justice Ministry spokeswoman revealed that Dutch authorities intend to crack down on illegal online casinos and are calling on banks to stop providing financial services to them, according to reports from Reuters now receiving wide coverage.
"It is illegal to offer gambling services in the Netherlands without a permit. These companies know they break the law," the spokeswoman said, confirming that Swedish online gambling firms Unibet and the independent Dutch firm Oranje Casino were targets. She declined to go further than identifying these two companies, but it appears that the ministry has made a list of 30-50 Internet gaming firms and has asked banks in Holland to stop services to these companies.
"This is a Dutch issue, so we have only asked banks operating in the Netherlands to participate," the spokeswoman said, adding that dossiers would be passed to the public prosecutor who would be tasked with bringing cases to court.
The move further perpetuates the controversial Dutch government policy of confining its gambling permit to the Dutch state lottery De Lotto. This policy has recently extended even to the local land-based Holland Casino operations, where ambitions to launch a revamped online operation were put on hold following a negative vote on the issue in the Dutch parliament (see previous InfoPowa report)
By involving the financial industry in barring companies from other EU nations from its gambling market, the Netherlands could find itself in further confrontation with the European Commission, which has already warned the government that it is in conflict with EU requirements for the free passage of goods and services. Now the subject of a final warning earlier this year, the Dutch could find themselves before the European Court of Justice.
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