In a significant legal ruling, a Dutch court has mandated that two online casino operators must reimburse a total of EUR 217,000 to players who incurred losses while engaging with these online gambling platforms during a period when online gambling was deemed illegal in the Netherlands.
Dealing with Illegal Gambling Operations:
The recent verdict, as reported by NL Times, pertains to the companies Unibet and another unnamed online casino. These operators have been instructed by the court to return the money to players who experienced substantial losses before October 2021 when online gambling was still considered unlawful. The court’s decision is grounded in the fact that online gambling was not legally sanctioned during this timeframe, making the players’ losses effectively illegal.
Unibet, a Malta-based gambling operator, is required to refund EUR 93,000 to one affected player, while the unidentified online casino has been directed to reimburse EUR 124,000 to another aggrieved gambler. It’s noteworthy that neither of the two companies responded to the court’s summonses or took steps to present a defense. Consequently, the ruling against Unibet was rendered in the absence of the defendant, while the other ruling pertained to the casino entity that chose not to disclose its corporate identity but is nonetheless obliged to provide the due restitution.
Unibet, however, has submitted a written response indicating its intention to appeal the court’s decision. Until the appeal hearing is convened, the existing verdict remains in effect, enabling players to claim their losses from the two online platforms. NL Times has reported that Benzi Loonstein, the attorney representing the two affected gamblers, described the case as straightforward, stating, “If a company is operating in contravention of the law, it has no right to the money it earned.”
Defense Needed for Refund Cases:
Loonstein emphasized that his clients are content with the court’s decision, acknowledging that the legal battle is not yet over. He expressed optimism about the development, saying, “They understand that the battle is not yet finally over. But this development is only positive.” Similar cases involving money lost on online gambling before October 2021 have surfaced in Germany and Austria. However, Loonstein clarified that default judgments like these do not establish a precedent for other legal actions where a defense is presented.
While these rulings can be cited in lawsuits pertaining to losses incurred before October 2021, cases where a defense has not been mounted hold less legal weight compared to cases where a defense has been presented. It’s worth noting that Malta, the home country of Unibet, has already enacted legislation that allows gambling companies to reject cash refund claims made by gamblers in other nations.