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Dutch Court Rules Bwin, PokerStars Must Refund Gambling Losses



Dutch Court Orders Bwin and PokerStars to Refund Players: A Groundbreaking Ruling for Online Gambling

A New Precedent in Gambling Regulation—In a landmark decision by the Overijssel District Court, major online gambling operators Bwin and PokerStars have been ordered to refund a total of €450,000 to two Dutch players. This ruling highlights a significant shift in handling cases of unlicensed gambling operations, setting a legal precedent that could reshape the landscape of online gambling in the Netherlands and potentially beyond. The court’s decision underscores the importance of licensing and regulation in the gambling industry, emphasizing consumer protection and legal compliance.

Background of the Case

The court cases centered on substantial losses incurred by two players: one lost €187,000 with Bwin from 2018 to 2019, and another lost €217,000 with PokerStars from 2006 to 2021. These cases were brought forward under the argument that both Bwin and PokerStars operated without the necessary licenses prior to the Dutch market’s regulation in October 2021, rendering their agreements with Dutch customers invalid.

Court’s Rationale and Decision

The Overijssel District Court’s ruling was based on the absence of a valid gambling license, which is required to operate legally within the Netherlands. The court declared that since the operators were unlicensed at the time the losses occurred, the contracts established with the players were void. Consequently, Bwin and PokerStars must refund the players’ losses. This decision not only impacts the involved parties but also sets a rigorous standard on the necessity of operating within the regulatory framework.

Implications of the Ruling

This ruling could potentially open the floodgates for similar lawsuits from other players who gambled on unlicensed platforms before the regulation took effect. Lawyer Benzi Loonstein, representing the affected players, noted the intense preparatory work leading up to the case and highlighted the emotional and financial distress experienced by clients who lost significant amounts, including life savings and inheritances. This case emphasizes the operators’ duty of care and the need for vigilant regulatory compliance.


Broader Legal and Regulatory Impact

The decision arrives at a critical time when the Dutch parliament is actively debating further restrictions on online gambling, including a complete ban on online slots and stringent advertising prohibitions. These discussions are part of broader efforts to tighten control over a sector that is perceived as particularly vulnerable to addiction and financial misuse. The rulings and legislative actions collectively aim to create a safer and more responsible gambling environment in the Netherlands.

Future Outlook for Online Gambling Operators

For online gambling operators, this ruling serves as a cautionary tale about the importance of adherence to local laws and regulations. The Dutch market’s regulatory framework is becoming increasingly strict, and companies like Bwin and PokerStars will need to ensure full compliance to avoid similar legal challenges and reputational damages. Moreover, this case may influence regulatory approaches in other jurisdictions, potentially leading to more rigorous enforcement and compliance requirements globally.

Conclusion: A Turning Point in Gambling Regulation

The Overijssel District Court’s decision marks a pivotal moment in the regulation of online gambling in the Netherlands. It underscores the critical nature of operating within the legal confines and the potential consequences of failure to do so. As the regulatory landscape continues to evolve, both operators and regulators will need to navigate these changes carefully, ensuring that the gambling environment remains both vibrant and safe for all stakeholders involved.

Stay Informed and Proactive

For industry professionals, gamblers, and regulators, understanding the implications of such legal decisions is crucial for navigating the future of online gambling. Keeping abreast of regulatory changes and court rulings will be key to adapting strategies and operations in compliance with the law, ensuring the integrity and sustainability of gambling practices in the Netherlands and beyond.


Following the completion of her master's degree in publishing and writing, Amanda embarked on her professional journey as an online editor for a prominent gaming blog. Now, she has smoothly transitioned into the iGaming industry, where she plays a vital role in upholding the highest standards of writing in our news pieces. Working closely with senior management, Amanda ensures that our content meets the utmost quality standards.

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