When everything seemed to be going well on the gambling scene in the Netherlands – the Senate finally officially approved the Remote Gaming and Casino Reform Bill on February 19 – a shower of fines came down on online gambling operators serving Dutch customers.
Ready to kick off the process of reorganising its gambling market, the Netherlands established Kansspelautoriteit in 2012. A year before that, the first proposals had been submitted for initiating the process of resolving the status of internet gaming in this European state. An almost decade-long project, the opening of the Dutch market attracted some 300 online gaming operators to publicly admit they were interested in applying for the gaming licence issued by the aforementioned authority.
It seems as if these numbers shook the government, as well as the information that the Dutch online casino market caters to approximately 1.5 million Dutch adults. Suddenly, the authorities found themselves expressing concern that recent developments in the gambling niche might affect gambling addiction, underage gambling and money laundering in a way that is not socially acceptable.
The Dutch Gaming Authority (Kansspelautoriteit) started what turned into a relentless wave of penalties, unfortunately for the gaming regulators who were so eagerly prepping for the country’s new liberalised online market. The regulatory body increased the ‘starting’ financial penalty for unauthorised online gambling from €150k to €200k in March. One of the first websites chosen to endure this treatment was Casumo, regulated by the Malta Gaming Authority, which was ordered to pay a €310,000 fine in April.
Online gambling company Unibet, also licensed by the Malta Gaming Authority, has been fined €470,000 by the Kansspelautoriteit for explicitly targeting players in the Netherlands. Unibet would offer Dutch players games such as roulette, poker and also sports betting while offering them a Dutch live chat messenger and the possibility to fund their gambling account using the Dutch online payment service iDEAL. Another reason was that the Netherlands wasn’t listed among restricted countries.
Bwin was also one of the labels to suffer the consequences of the determined Kansspelautoriteit. Determined to drive operators away from the Dutch market? That’s one way of looking at it. ElectraWorks Limited was fined €350,000 for offering online gambling via Bwin.com to players from the Dutch market. The use of the Dutch language, the .nl extension and use of the iDEAL payment system was not seen as convenient, at least by the members of the KSA.
The latest was the case of the Malta-based company TSG Interactive Gaming Europe Limited, part of the Stars Group. This time, the fine reached the sum of €400,000 because PokerStars was found to have been operating in the Netherlands despite having it listed as a banned jurisdiction.
What message is the KSA sending to the Dutch online casino community? If you’re an internationally acclaimed operator looking to court Dutch players, don’t even think about pleading ignorance of the Dutch law. Instead, try going above and beyond in cooperating with the KSA’s regulatory probes. That way, you can look forward to getting your fines reduced up to 25 per cent for good behaviour, just in time for the new bill to come into effect in summer 2020.