Authorities in the Netherlands have broken up what they described as a “professional, large scale” international illegal sports betting ring. On Tuesday, the Fiscal Information and Investigation Service (FIOD) anti-fraud agency announced that five suspects had been arrested on charges ranging from illegal betting to forgery and money laundering.
The five men – four Dutch nationals and a fifth man living in Cyprus who was temporarily in The Hague – were arrested following raids on homes in Netherlands, Cyprus, Austria, Germany, the UK and Curacao. The raids netted over €100k in seized cash, cars and luxury goods, including Rolex watches.
The six-country investigation began after the FIOD received a tip-off from Germany that one of the suspects was involved in match-fixing in 2008-09, including matches played in the Netherlands. The Netherlands public prosecutor says investigations have yet to uncover any proof of this alleged fixing activity.
The Netherlands takes a particularly dim view of illegal gambling activity, routinely vying with neighboring Belgium to see who can dole out the biggest six-figure penalties to operators not expressly authorized to accept wagers from its citizens. One of the five accused, a 58-year-old man from The Hague, is facing charges of operating an illegal lottery. Similar charges resulted in an €80k fine for an elderly couple from Austria who dared offer an online house lottery with a Dutch-language option.
The Netherlands is in the process of liberalizing its online gambling market but the Remote Gambling Bill is taking the long way around to passage. Latest progress reports had pegged a summer vote in the country’s upper house and an early 2016 timeline for the bill’s provisions to be actually implemented.