European countries don’t seem to be getting the message – while the European Commission issues reasoned opinions and warnings to end protectionist measures for online gaming, some countries continue to tighten their grip anyway. The latest one is Holland, which just confirmed it own little UIGEA is in place.
Sweden, Denmark, France and Holland are only some of the European countries with overprotected state gaming monopolies which have been targeted by European Commissioner Charlie McCreevy and his legal team. Only last February Holland received a final warning from the EC, giving it two months to comply with the free trade obligations of the EC Treaty or face the European Court of Justice. The deadline passed last April, and no action seemed forthcoming from Holland until now.
In a contradictory fashion, instead of opening up its market to other gaming companies from the EU, Holland is enacting its own UIGEA: Dutch banks are now forbidden to accept online gaming related transactions.
As reported by Reuters, the Netherlands Ministry of Justice has issued a list containing between 30 and 50 gaming sites which are forthwith banned from using Dutch banking services for online gaming transfers. A Ministry spokeswoman confirmed that Swedish firm Unibet and independent Dutch company Oranje Casino were included.
The Ministry of Justice is trying to frame this in the context of licensing, claiming these companies operate without a license and that they will be prosecuted for it. "It is illegal to offer gambling services in the Netherlands without a permit. These companies know they break the law," declared the Ministry of Justice’s spokeswoman, who added, "This is a Dutch issue, so we have only asked banks operating in the Netherlands to participate."
Since banning bank transactions is apparently not enough, the Ministry of Justice has handed over a dossier of illegal gaming operators to the public prosecutors office so that further action is taken against these companies.
The European Commission is not likely to take to this kindly – the Dutch protection of its state gaming monopoly De Lotto is going so far as to ban other gaming companies from within the country, as well as European and overseas operators. A response from the EC is bound to be issued soon, and more likely than not it will be a summons to the European Court of Justice for protectionist practice.