In the Netherlands, the past Chief Executive Officer for former three-dimensional online games developer and operator Sheriff Gaming has reportedly filed a lawsuit against the government for just over $79 million after being arrested in 2013 and subsequently charged along with two others with illegal gambling, money laundering, forgery and tax evasion.
According to an interview with the Financieele Dagblad newspaper, Stijn Flapper stated that he brought the action because he had “done nothing illegal” and that the ongoing case against him was hypocritical given that the nation’s Kansspelautoriteit regulator had previously tolerated “dozens of Internet casinos”.
The 38-year-old reportedly also declared that he was charged along with brothers Maurice Gregoire and Michel Gregoire for offering online gambling services despite the fact that the activity is in the process of being formally legalized. The lower House Of Representatives approved a draft Remote Gaming Bill in July while the Senate is expected to follow suit in 2017.
Flapper additionally reportedly claimed to have received a “tolerance letter” from the regulator almost ten months before his arrest in November of 2013 that gave Sheriff Gaming parent Bubble Group and its North Dakota Enterprises subsidiary permission to operate so long as they did not run a Netherlands-facing domain, offer Dutch-language products or advertise to Netherlanders. As such, he proclaimed that his firm’s websites, which had included AmsterdamCasino.com, AmsterdamPoker.com, JackpotRed.com, TripleGold.com, Golden10Casino.com, Tanzoo.com and FruitLuck.com, had “always met the tolerance requirements” laid down by the Kansspelautoriteit.
The online entrepreneur moreover rejected a “malicious and false press release” reportedly issued by prosecutors at the time of his arrest that alleged drug trafficking. Flapper reportedly asserted that there had been “no truth” to these claims and that “no drugs were found [on] us” as he “hates drugs”.
Flapper’s brother reportedly attempted to restart Bubble Group’s operations in April of 2014 under the new corporate identity of Blue Gem Gaming but Tim Flapper’s plan was subsequently scuppered by the Dutch Trade Tribunal. The collapsed company’s assets were sold to Austrian firm Novomatic Group a year later while the criminal element of the case, although technically still ongoing, was “indefinitely” suspended by a Den Bosch court in October due to procedural delays over the admissibility of certain documentary evidence.
Financieele Dagblad reported that the cash Flapper is seeking represents the “minimal damage” he has suffered and does not take into account revenues the shut down gambling domains may have generated in the four years since his arrest. To emphasize his losses, the former entrepreneur reportedly claimed that he had received a $43.9 million offer for a 49% stake in Bubble Group but that this deal collapsed following his arrest.
In response, Oktay Mooijen, a case officer with the nation’s Public Prosecution Service, told Financieele Dagblad that Flapper’s arguments were “a joke” and that the websites had drained “away money with forged documents” and hid revenues from tax authorities. In August of 2015, a Dutch court reportedly handed down a default judgement that the domains and their principals owed around $14.2 million in unpaid taxes due to the fact that 90% of customers had been based in the Netherlands.
Mooijen also reportedly asserted that Flapper’s lawsuit did not address allegations from former Sheriff Gaming employees that the firm’s software had been designed in such a way as to ensure that only certain people won although the former boss had earlier denied such allegations and has moreover appealed against the default judgment.