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A Dutch court ruled yesterday (17 April) that Flutter Entertainment- and Entain-owned businesses must pay back all the grey market-era losses of two of their players.

The Overijssel District Court ruled on two separate cases involving player lawsuits against Flutter-owned PokerStars and Entain’s Bwin.

The players’ lawyers argued the companies operating without a licence in the Netherlands’ grey market prior to the April 2021 regulated market violated Dutch law.

Neither subsidiaries are currently active in the market, although Entain itself is licensed and operating in the Netherlands through its BetCity brand.

First reported by Casino Niuews, the player in the Bwin suit must be repaid €187,622 plus interest for bets placed between January 2018 and November 2019.

In the second case, Flutter must repay the customer $230,705 and €400 plus interest for gambling conducted between 2006 and 2021.

The cases are part of a wider European trend of gambling businesses being ordered to return player losses for unlicensed betting activities.

Lawyers have had success bringing similar cases forward in Germany, Austria and the Netherlands.

Many operators have opted to abide by the court orders while others, notably 888, have continued to fight.

Malta’s Bill 55

These operators often lean on European free movement of services rules as legal cover for their European grey market operations.

Last year Malta passed a law, often termed Bill 55, which sought to protect operators from legal liability resulting from their MGA-licensed activities.

The law has proved controversial, with some, including Germany’s gambling regulator the GGL, stating it is incompatible with European law.

In July 2023, the European Commission said it would scrutinise the law and requested more information from the Malta authorities.

In the past, the Court of Justice of the European Union has been the finally authority on disputes between national and supranational law.

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