An article by guest author, Justin Franssen, Dutch lawyer, Van Mens & Wissellink, Amsterdam
Recent developments in The Netherlands: Litigation between Holland Casino and Ministry of Justice
State casino operator Holland Casino – in a joint effort with the city of Amsterdam and Rotterdam – sued the national government for not allowing a second Holland Casino facility to be located in the cities Amsterdam and Rotterdam. On 16 June 2006 the Administrative Court of Rotterdam rendered a negative ruling for Holland Casino and the cities of Rotterdam and Amsterdam. The parties now have the option to appeal this matter before the „Afdeling Rechtspraak Raad van State“, (Council of State) which is the highest instance court in Administrative law matters. At this stage it is unknown if any of the parties have appealed yet. Some observers called the litigation of Holland Casino against the government as remarkable:
Holland Casino obtained its monopoly purely to execute the restrictive Dutch casino gaming policy set out by the Dutch government and the government justifies the casino-monopoly because it is supposed to be the best instrument to have a tight grip on the industry. With this step Holland Casino seems to aim to undermine the restrictive gaming policy of the government who does not allow more casinos in one city.
Pending Appeal case Compagnie Financiere Regionale vs Ministry of Justice (aka Breda Court Case)
In the first instance main proceedings decision the Breda Admnistrative Court ruled in December last year that the casino license application from a French private operator (despite the legal monopoly of Holland Casino) could not be dismissed because the Dutch gaming policies do not comply with European law, notably with the criteria set out by the European Court of Justice in the controversial Gambelli case. Holland Casino decided to join the government in the appeal case against CFR and very recently it rendered its written submission to the Council of State Court to be continued. Like in many other European jurisdictions such as Germany and Italy, The Netherlands joins the ranks of countries were conflicting post-Gambelli decisions are rendered.
Temporary exclusive on-line gaming license for Holland Casino
A suggested (new) on-line gaming monopoly for Holland Casino received critique from The Council of State, The European Commission and from the private industry. The law will probably be debated in Parliament on 5,6 or 7 September. There are indications that amendments will be tabled to the effect to allow more licensees than just Holland Casino. Should this amendment make it to the Chamber than the law needs to be redrafted entirely. We feel the Minister of Justice Mr Donner takes a considerable risk by granting an new monopoly to Holland Casino. In other Member States of the Union this has lead to fierce litigation and action of the European Commission:
In a French case initiated by Casino Groupe Partouche it fights the on-line gaming monopoly granted to Francaise de Jeux. In Sweden litigtion is pending regarding the online poker monopoly that was granted to Svenska Spel excluding other interested parties from the licensing process. It is to be expected that Holland will be next in line should the government continue to execute its plans to extend the Holland Casino monopoly on-line.