The court’s ruling comes as a result of a recent change in Dutch gambling laws in October 2021, which legalized online gambling. This change has prompted individuals who incurred significant losses prior to this date to take legal action, arguing that their losses were unlawful. Unibet, the company in question, has stated that it intends to contest the ruling and seek a reexamination of the case at a later date.
According to the court’s decision, Unibet has been ordered to repay €93,000 ($99,902) to one gambler, while another undisclosed company has been instructed to reimburse €124,000 ($133,203). These rulings were default judgments, meaning that the defendants failed to respond. However, a representative from Unibet has attributed the lack of response to human error and has stated that the company will assert its legal rights.
Benzi Loonstein, a lawyer representing several former gamblers, including the two involved in these cases, has expressed his clients’ satisfaction with the court’s ruling, despite expecting an ongoing legal battle. The judges in both cases have supported Loonstein’s arguments, indicating that Unibet may face significant challenges in contesting the decision.
The Netherlands is not alone in addressing claims related to such losses. Similar lawsuits, with a success rate of nearly 100%, have been conducted in Germany and Austria in recent years. These cases have resulted in the recovery of tens of millions of euros from gambling companies in almost 7,000 instances. The argument behind these lawsuits is that companies acting unlawfully should not be entitled to profits from their activities.
Unibet’s potential unsuccessful appeal could have long-term implications for the company, as more clients may seek compensation through legal means. Given the success of similar cases in prominent European jurisdictions, Unibet’s legal team will face significant challenges in achieving a favorable outcome. This development follows the operator’s ongoing troubles in other European markets, which have been exacerbated by increasing regulatory pressures.
In September, Kindred, the parent company of Unibet, withdrew from Norway after a costly and prolonged legal battle. The court ruled that the operator had been operating illegally in the face of the country’s efforts to regulate its gambling market. This setback dealt a significant blow to Kindred’s ambitions in Europe, and the recent setbacks in the Netherlands have further undermined its presence in another prominent jurisdiction.
The surge in refund claims has raised concerns in Malta, home to many casinos, including Unibet. The region revised its gambling laws in June with Bill 55, which allows gambling companies to disregard foreign judgments when confronted with refund requests from gamblers. This safeguard aims to protect against such demands. However, the change in law contradicts EU regulations, prompting an investigation by the European Commission.