Dutch minister gets bellicose

The Dutch Justice Minister, Hirsch Ballin was in the news again this week with more threats designed to warn off online gambling companies that may be a threat to the state's monopolistic stranglehold on betting in Holland.

Ballin told fellow MPs that online gambling sites that persist in targeting Dutch residents will now face unspecified legal action, regardless of EU policies on free and open markets between member nations, always a source of irritation to Dutch politicians when it comes to gambling.

Questioned later on the minister's threat, a Justice Ministry spokesman declined to tell news agency ANP how many sites are being targeted, but confirmed that both Dutch-based and foreign companies are involved.

Under Dutch law, firms must have a permit to offer online gambling - and all licensing is held by state dominated companies.

Ballin is also reportedly planning to again warn Dutch banks that they are breaking the law if they have illegal gambling sites as customers; the Justice Ministry spokesman told ANP: "We are talking about the bigger banks operating in the Netherlands."

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