BUSINESS

Netherlands streamlines fines for online gambling operators

TAGs: Kansspelautoriteit, Netherlands

netherlands-online-gambling-finesGaming regulators in the Netherlands are taking a more direct approach to slapping six-figure fines on unauthorized online gambling operators, despite the inherent difficulty of actually collecting these fines.

On Thursday, the Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) regulatory body announced that it was adopting a new policy towards illegal online gambling operators as of January 1, 2017. Up till now, the KSA’s policy was to issue a warning letter to gambling sites deemed to be serving the Dutch market without the KSA’s permission (aka all of them) and to refrain from issuing harsh financial penalties if the operator amended its evil ways.

But the KSA says this policy no longer applies, given its belief that the KSA has been sufficiently active in combating unauthorized sites that the rules are now self-evident. As a result, any sites found to be breaking these rules after New Year’s Eve will be “directly eligible for enforcement action.”

In July, the KSA injected some serious steroids into its enforcement penalties, boosting the maximum fine for illegal online gambling threefold to €150k, or as high as €820k or 10% of sales derived from Dutch punters for repeat offenders.

The KSA has not been shy about doling out fines against transgressors, including a €480k fine to the operators of Redslots.com in November 2015. The same operators were fined €310k in October 2014 for Dutch-facing activity on 7red.com and RoyaalCasino.com.

However, KSA chief Jan Suyver recently acknowledged that issuing fines is one thing, while collecting payment is another thing entirely. This week, Suyver told Dutch media that doling out administrative penalties is “fun” but these penalties are “difficult to recover.” Suyver urged Dutch legislators to enter into agreements with foreign governments that would provide tools with which to compel international operators to cough up.

The Netherlands is (supposedly) in the final stages of approving its long-promised Remote Gaming Bill. The bill was approved by the government’s lower house in July, and the Senate hopes to do likewise before parliamentary elections in March 2017. In May, the KSA estimated it would be another 18 months before the new regulated market actually launches.

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