Shark77, a fast-growing casino and sports betting operator based in Malta, must pay in full a 900,000 eur fine to the Kansspelautoriteit (KSA), better known as the Dutch gambling regulator, for operating in the Netherlands without a vital license.

KSA’s lawsuit:

Today, Maltese operator Shark77 was fined 900,000 eur by the Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) for offering its unlicensed games in the country.

This has been declared illegal under the Betting and Gaming Act, as the operator does not have the necessary regulatory approval in the form of a license.

The investigation:

The regulator first opened an investigation into Shark77 in December 2021, followed by further investigations in January and February 2022, which revealed that the operator was offering its services on its website despite not having a license.

In this regard, the regulator said: “No technical measures were in place to stop Dutch players from accessing these offerings.

“The site was accessible via a Dutch IP, while the Netherlands was offered as a player’s country when registering for an account.”

Refusal of charges:

After the regulator first contacted the operator, it denied the allegations, saying: “We weren’t intentionally targeting the Dutch market.

“We were offering games in accordance with the licence it was issued by the Malta Gaming Authority and that KSA should not impose a fine.”

In this regard, KSA said: “Shark77 had breached Dutch rules by offering games and that even though it held a licence in Malta, this was not enough for it to allow Dutch customers to access its gaming and was then operating in the country illegally.”

Furthermore, the regulator assessed the lack of procedures needed to control and prevent Dutch players from accessing the website, saying that “users were able to deposit and withdraw directly from a Dutch bank account.”

Because of all of this, Shark77’s counterarguments did not hold up and there was no reason to postpone the fine, according to the regulator.

KSA’s fight against unlicensed operators:

One of the KSA officials said: “A licensed provider of online games of chance has costs that illegal providers of online games of chance do not have to incur.

“In addition, illegal providers do not pay any tax in the Netherlands and are not restricted in the conduct of their business by the strict rules of the Betting and Gaming Act and the associated licensing regulations.

“This allows illegal providers to offer a different offer, for example by offering games of chance that are prohibited for licence holders.”

René Jansen, president of KSA, added: “These providers can thus have an attractive effect on players and jeopardise the channelling to the legal offer. We consider this serious and highly undesirable. 

“Dutch players deserve the good protection of providers with a licence from the Gaming Authority.”