Lawmakers in the Netherlands ruled to uphold the Dutch Gaming Authority’s, Kansspelautoriteit (KSA), right to impose significant fines on foreign online gambling providers that offer their services and products to players in the country without possessing a local license.
On July 13, it was determined by the District Court in The Hague that the KSA possesses the legal authority to levy massive six-figure fines against international casino operators who violate local laws by operating without the KSA’s permission.
Three specific online gambling providers are reportedly the focus of the fines in question. While they operate under international licenses, the Dutch Kansspelautoriteit has not granted them the necessary permit to offer their services legally within the Netherlands.
The holder of a Maltese license, Co-Gaming Limited has, since 2015, been penalized a total of €180,000 and is the first gaming provider to feel the full weight of the Court’s ruling. The company at the time operated under the name of ComeOn Europe. A year earlier, ONISAC Ltd. and Mansion Online Casino Ltd., both Gibraltar-regulated gambling companies, were hit with fines which combined totaled €150,000.
Having reportedly paid their fines, all three operators still opted to appeal the past fines and were subsequently on the losing end as the District Court in The Hague upheld the gambling regulator’s right to impose the fines. It is unclear at the present time as to whether or not they will opt again to appeal, utilizing a last ditch effort to overturn the Dutch District Court’s ruling via the Council of State of the Netherlands. Nevertheless, a statement released by the KSA reportedly expressed satisfaction with the Court’s ruling and its support of the local regulator’s policies, which the KSA stated function in the “in the interests of the consumer.”
The current process of introducing new online gambling regulations, which were introduced by the KSA and came into effect on June 1, is a slow one. And while the amendments look to broadening the local online gambling market to include foreign completion, the Court still ruled that the operator’s activity remains illegal and as such penalizing online operators serving Dutch players was within the regulator’s scope. The District Court also reportedly ruled that the actions of the KSA were in line with European Union Law.
The last argument by the Court is a point of contention between Dutch authorities and many international online operators such as Malta-based Betsson AB. The Swedish company recently appealed to the European Commission (EC) requesting that it reopen infringement proceedings against KSA. Launched by the EC back in 2006, the infringement proceedings were suspended after Dutch authorities gave assurances that its online gambling marketplace would be modernized and opened to foreign competition. Betsson argues that the reopening of the proceedings is warranted because the country “continued failure to implement an EU compliant legal framework.”