Gaming regulators in the Netherlands have slapped a nearly €374k fine on an illegal betting operation based in Rotterdam.
On Thursday, the Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) regulatory body announced what it called the highest penalty ever imposed “in the so-called country-specific domain.” The two offenders are the owners of a betting shop in Rotterdam that falsely claimed to be licensed to offer state-approved gambling services.
The KSA says it issued warnings to the shop owners on two different occasions last year and local authorities in Rotterdam closed the shop for a month earlier this year. The KSA said the owners’ flagrant disregard for these shots across their bow left it with no choice but to dole out the six-figure penalty.
The operators falsely advertised their shop as a licensed purveyor of the state-owned De Lotto’s Toto sports betting and Runnerz horserace betting products. The KSA says this “mixing of legal and illegal gaming is a serious matter” that gives customers “a false sense of safety and security.”
The fine breaks down to €123,750 for offering illegal sports betting services on a total of 15 computers. The KSA imposed a further fine of €250k for offering illegal games of chance via these same computers. The fine may be a record for a local operator, but the KSA issued a €480k fine on the operators of the internationally licensed Redslots.com one year ago.
The illegal operators declined to testify in their own behalf, likely because they had no defense to offer. Should the recalcitrant pair fail to amend their evil ways, the KSA says additional fines will be levied and could be followed by criminal prosecution resulting in a custodial sentence. Municipal authorities in Rotterdam may also decide to seize the couple’s shop as a penalty for future offenses.
The KSA says this recent action is part of its new “illegal gambling is not a game” campaign, part of its effort to educate the Dutch public on how and where to legally gamble. Earlier this month, the KSA convinced Apple to purge unauthorized gambling apps from the Dutch App Store.
In July, the lower house of the Netherlands parliament approved the nation’s oft-delayed Remote Gaming Bill, leaving only the Senate’s approval for the wheels to finally start moving. The current target for the official launch of the new regulated online market is Q3 2017, although plenty of best estimates have come and gone in the past few years.