Government kept betting letter secret

A letter from the European Commission which states that the official Dutch monopoly on betting on football and horse races is illegal has been kept secret by the justice ministry for a year, the Telegraaf reports on Monday.

The reason for the secrecy is that the letter wiill ‘lead to a one-sided discussion… about Dutch gambling policy’ and ‘undermine the Dutch position’, the minstry told the paper.
The Netherlands maintains the state monopoly on gambling is essential to combat gambling addiction and keep out organised crime.
The Telegraaf claims to have a copy of the letter which strongly criticises the Dutch position.
The government is currently trying to stop foreign companies offering betting services in the Netherlands. In January it said that banks and credit card companies could be held liable if they help Dutch citizens pay for bets with foreign firms.
‘It is extremely worrying that citizens are being confronted with a law and fines which contravene EU law,’ professor Geert-Jan Knoops told the paper.
The government has repeatedly said that it is in discussions with Brussels about gambling policy. However, an EU spokesman told the paper that the letter is ‘not a request for information’.
‘The Netherlands is in contravention of the EU treaty,’ the paper quoted the spokesman as saying.

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