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A Dutch court has ordered Kindred Group and an undisclosed online casino operator to refund money to players who incurred losses during the period when online gambling was unregulated in the Netherlands. 

At the end of last year, a group of 100 gamblers and Dutch lawyer Benzi Loonstein (pictured) initiated legal action against four operators to reclaim their gambling losses from the period before online gambling became regulated in the country in October 2021.

Loonstein is emulating the approach of lawyers in Germany and Austria, who have filed similar claims.

First reported by website casinozorgplicht.nl, Kindred-owned Unibet was directed to reimburse €93,000, while in a separate judgment, an undisclosed company was ordered to return €124,000.

KSA fine

In the case of Kindred, the Court of Northern Netherlands in Groningen, in its initial judgment, sided with the player, contending that the commercial contract between the player and the operator was invalid due to the illegality of the offering.

Back in 2019, the Dutch regulator KSA imposed a €470,000 fine on Kindred’s subsidiary, Trannel International Limited, for offering online gambling to Dutch consumers through the unibet.eu website, in the second half of 2018.

Neither Kindred nor the other operator reportedly responded to the court’s summons or provided a defence, leading to the issuance of a default judgment.

A default judgment is a legal decision made by a court when one party in a case fails to respond or defend themselves.

However, Kindred has indicated that it plans to appeal the court’s decision and has exercised its right to submit a substantive defence.

A Kindred spokesperson told NEXT.io: “There is no ruling in this case based on hearing both sides. The default judgement that was issued in late August was an outcome of the opposing party, us in this case, not being present at the procedure.

“Kindred has now exercised its right to submit a substantive defence and as such the matter is before the courts.”

Bill 55 concerns

Lawyer Loonstein was also part of a group of Dutch lawyers who raised concerns about Malta’s Bill 55 and its potential implications.

The bill serves as a safeguard for MGA-licensed operators against player claims for damages originating from overseas.

The law states no measures can be taken against the provision of gambling services if that action is lawful in Malta and the providers hold a Maltese licence.

Furthermore, Maltese courts are required to reject the recognition and enforcement of any foreign judgment related to an action described in this particular provision.

The lawyers argued that Bill 55 undermines key EU principles, particularly the principles of mutual recognition and cooperation.

They called upon the Dutch government to protect the interests of Dutch citizens affected by this issue and the government to leverage the European Commission’s influence to ensure Malta’s compliance with the rule of law.

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