Netherlands puts gambling apps on notice, says 18 more months to regulated market

netherlands-targets-online-gambling-appsGaming regulators in the Netherlands have launched a purge of online gambling apps they deem to be illegally serving Dutch punters.

On Wednesday, the Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) regulatory body posted a notice on its website saying it would soon be posting a public list of the offending apps. The KSA said it expects both the app makers as well as app stores hosting the apps to remove the offending products from their sites.

The KSA says it has identified 49 apps that currently offer real-money online gambling to Dutch punters. The KSA expressed concern for both real-money and free-play apps, but for the moment is focusing its enforcement efforts on the real-money products.

For years now, the Netherlands has been working towards a regulated online gambling market, but legislators keep dragging their heels, leaving the KSA to keep cracking their whip in a bid to purge the market of illegality before locally licensed operators get their shot.

The Lower House of the Dutch parliament will consider the country’s Remote Gambling Bill next week but KSA spokesman Martijn van de Koolwijk told Dutch media outlet Volkskrant that approving the legislation has already endured three delays and he doesn’t expect the regulated market to launch for at least another 18 months.

In the meantime, van de Koolwijk insists that the KSA will continue to enforce the rules, which include fines of up to €810k or 10% of an operator’s Dutch market sales. He also noted that the regulator will consider a license applicant’s past behavior in assessing its suitability for a new Dutch online license.

Speaking of bad behaviour, an administrative court in The Hague has upheld significant fines the KSA imposed on some illegal operators. Way back in 2014, the KSA levied fines totaling €180k on the operators of and, as well as on a company offering support services to the sites, for defying the KSA’s orders to stop servicing Dutch gamblers.

In a judgment dated April 20, the Court ruled on an appeal filed by the offending companies, who had claimed that the fines contravened European Union free trade principles, that the the KSA’s enforcement policies were arbitrary and ambiguous, that the fines were disproportionate to the alleged impropriety and that one of the companies fined wasn’t in breach of the rules.

The full judgment (in Dutch) can be read here, but the gist is that the Court upheld the KSA’s right to spank the offending operators and rejected the companies’ appeal wholesale. Cuz the house always wins in the end…