Gamblers sue Toto for not paying out won football bets in full

AMSTERDAM - Four semi-professional gamblers have filed a lawsuit against Toto, accusing the State-owned company of not fully paying out football bets they won. The court in The Hague will handle the case on Friday. The gamblers won almost 26,000 euros in bets placed on a Danish cup match from last year. Toto failed to pay out most of it, NOS reports. 


According to the broadcaster, gambling companies are at loggerheads with a select group of players who manage to earn money through sports betting on a structural basis. Since the Netherlands legalized online gambling two years ago, the vast majority of accounts have been making losses, about 310 euros per month per player, according to the Gambling Authority. But a limited number of players win frequently enough to earn a living, sometimes by taking advantage of gambling companies' mistakes when offering bets. 


According to Toto, that is precisely what happened in this case. 


Several professional gamblers told NOS that gambling companies are doing everything they can to get rid of them. Toto and Betcity, among others, have blocked online accounts without explanation. And Betcity limits the bets structural winners can place - those limits don't apply to losing accounts. Betcity told NOS that it can limit bets as part of “risk management” - a catch-all term that covers everything from combating gambling addiction to money laundering. 


Because their online accounts got blocked, the four gamblers in this case placed their bets at the Toto shops - cigar shops and supermarkets that have Toto’s permission to accept bets. The player receives a receipt as proof of the bet placed, and the shop doesn’t ask for identification. 


The four gamblers placed a series of bets at these stores in early August 2022, most speculating on a victory for the Danish first-division club HB Koge in a cup match against a second-division club. Toto promised a payout of 6 to 7 times the stake when they placed the bets. 


Koge won, but Toto refused to pay out most of the almost 26,000 euros the gamblers' receipts say they’re entitled to. According to Toto, the odds of 6 to 7 times the bet was clearly an error - Koge plays in a higher division, and the winning amount should have been much lower. The gamblers were trying to capitalize on this mistake because they knew very well it was “too good to be true,” according to Toto. 


The gamblers hope that the court will rule in their favor and also spotlight the arbitrariness with which the gambling companies treat them, they told NOS. “You are simply not allowed to win at these companies,” one of the plaintiffs, Cupido van den Berg, told the broadcaster. 


A spokesperson for the Gambling Authority told NOS that the applicable laws and regulations don’t prohibit companies from limiting the bets of winning players or excluding them. The regulator considers it “undesirable” that these companies are using means intended to protect gambling addicts against winning players, but it is not illegal. 

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