Dutch parliament votes against online gambling bill

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The upper house of the Dutch parliament defeated a bill that would have allowed monopoly casino operator Holland Casino to open a gambling Web site on a trial basis.

The bill was defeated in a narrow 35-37 vote on Tuesday, the Senate’s Web site said. The lower house of the Dutch parliament had approved the bill in 2006.

PartyGaming, Bwin and Sportingbet could have suffered if the plans had been approved as Dutch gamblers would have been able to bet legally with Holland Casino as opposed to going to the other firms’ Web sites based elsewhere.

Europe is grappling with Internet betting. While countries like Britain have opened up to almost every kind of online gambling, Germany and France have been reluctant to follow suit, concerned by gambling addiction and that state betting monopolies would see their revenues destroyed.

In February, the European Commission gave Greece and the Netherlands a final warning before court action over restrictions in their gaming markets in a push by Brussels to boost competition.

Additional reporting by Marc Jones in London; Editing by Quentin Bryar