Operator Bwin Victorious in Dutch Lawsuit Contesting $102K in Gambling Losses 

A Dutch gambler who lost €94,000 (US$102,000) at online gambling website bwin between 2017 and 2021 has lost their lawsuit against the company. 

At the time of their gambling losses, bwin was not legally licensed in the Netherlands. But it is now. The plaintiff claimed this lapse invalidated their previous contract with the gambling operator, and they were entitled to their money back. 

Lawyers pointed out a recently successful case in the country against bwin and Pokerstars on similar grounds. However, this week, a judge at Zeeland-West Brabant court in Breda disagreed with the precedent, ruling in favor of bwin and against the losing gambler. 

The lawyer representing the plaintiff, Benzi Loonstein, spoke to local media after the ruling. 

“We have taken note of the judgment of the Zeeland-West-Brabant court. The ruling is surprising, because it deviates from established case law. All other courts that have ruled to date have ruled that the unlicensed casinos must pay back the money they obtained illegally,” he said. 

“At the same time, it is not surprising that given the many cases we handle, there will always be judges with a different opinion.”


Under the policy of gedoogbeleid, the Dutch government has historically enacted a loosely tolerant attitude towards grey area businesses, including online gambling. However, a regulated market was opened in October 2021. 

Since then, European operators who previously served Dutch customers have seen a wave of lawsuits from gamblers who made significant losses during the unregulated era. 

These claimants, like the one that was rejected this week, say they are legally owed their money back by now-licensed operators like bwin. 

These have mostly been successful, with legal precedents set in other EU countries like Germany. Such as in the case of two Dutch gamblers in April this year, who were returned a combined €450,000 ($488,550) in losses after a court order against bwin and Pokerstars. Which makes this week’s ruling even more surprising. 

The Ruling

The judge’s reasons for rejecting the lawsuit in this case were multiple and explained in-depth.

First, they said that the previous gambling regulation was out of date, and by 2017, when the gambler in question was spending their money, it was already not fit for purpose. 

Secondly, the judge said that by the date that the gambling occurred, applications for today’s regulated market were already well underway, and that bwin had been constructively talking with the Dutch government about the transition. 

It had already been assessed that bwin, in most respects, was already adhering to the best practices that the upcoming gambling regulator was preparing to put in force. That counters the plaintiffs claim that their contract with bwin from that time was invalid. 

Thirdly, the judge also pointed out that bwin was, despite not being licensed directly in the Netherlands, already offering responsible gambling tools in line with the requirements in other regulated markets in Europe.

The operator provided evidence in court that the gambler in question was asked if they were in control of their play several times via email after their spending went up. The gambler decided they weren’t, and put a limit on their account. But after eight months, they decided to take it off.

The judge said this demonstrated bwin had provided adequate resources to deter the gambler from problem play, and that they — not bwin — were personally responsible for their losses. As well as rejecting the claim, the judge ordered the plaintiff to pay legal costs totaling €5443 (US$5909). 

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