Last year, the Netherlands Gaming Authority, De Kansspelautoriteit (KSA), offered a warning: “Fines now, fines in the future.” That certainly seems to be the case with its latest judgment.
In 2017, it was talking about its €170,000 ($173,700; £153,889) fine of Trustfulgames, owner of Malta-licensed betting site Tiplix.com. Now the KSA has hit Corona Ltd with a figure almost double the amount.
The €300,000 ($347,410; £271,570) fine was issued earlier this week when the KSA found that Corona was offering games to customers in the country without the required local license. It was especially sticky ground because the site offered games in the Dutch language and was clearly targeting the country’s consumers.
Corona is a subsidiary of the Betsson group, which was acquired four years ago. The group is the operator of the Oranje and Kroon online casino brands.
There is no news yet on whether the group will appeal the decision, although it is thought that it is currently considering the possibility.
The fine is part of a hardline move by the KSA to tackle the problem of lax regulation within the Netherlands, as demonstrated by an overhaul of regulations in 2016. That was when the lower house of the Dutch Parliament approved the Remote Gaming Bill, despite not having the approval of the country’s Senate.
That debate has rumbled on ever since. The new coalition government pledged to restore the legislative process with an optimistic hope of introducing the regulation in 2020. This would allow operators to offer casino and slots-based games online.
Still, despite the pressures, the latest fine seeks to cement the powers of the Netherlands Gaming Authority, and the size of the fine will come as a shock to some operators.
Speaking on behalf of Betsson AB, the CEO Pontus Lindwall said: “Betsson shares KSA’s ambition to achieve a high channelization of customers into any future locally regulated environment in the Netherlands and supports the Dutch Government’s ambition in moving forward with the legislative process.”
The company went on to say in its media release that Betsson AB acquired its Corona entity four years ago “in anticipation of the re-regulation of the Dutch online gaming market,” which the group says was due, and it expected the re-regulation to occur in 2015, “according to public information.”
The group did reveal that the KSA also investigated other operators under the Betsson banner. However, no violations were found and there have been no further fines.
The Gaming Authority singled out Tiplix.com in 2017 for offering a Dutch-language version of its website, which has now been discontinued.
The website offered casino games, slot machines, and sports betting for Dutch customers. After the fine, viewers were greeted with a message, in German, that read: “For legal reasons, persons with Dutch citizenship cannot open a TIPLIX account.”
But it was the conclusion of the announcement by the KSA that had people talking. It ended its statement with the line, “Fines now, fines in the future,” which seemed somewhat ironic to legitimate operators who hadn’t seen much of this hard-line approach before. But, with the implementation of the new regulations almost in sight, perhaps the time has come for the Netherlands Gaming Authority to show the gambling word that it means business. And it’s starting with Corona and Betsson.
Just as the UK Gaming Authority has picked up the pace over the last few years, it might be worth keeping an eye on the Netherlands. As at this rate, more fines could be on the way.