Betsson urges European Commission to spank Netherlands


betsson-european-commission-netherlands-infringementNordic online gambling operator Betsson AB has called on the European Union’s trade watchdogs to prevent the Netherlands from taking enforcement action against the company’s Dutch-focused brands.

For years now, the Netherlands has been prepping new online gambling legislation, although legislators have yet to completely agree on how best to proceed and the expectation is that a regulated market won’t arrive until H2 2018 at the earliest.

That hasn’t stopped the Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) regulatory body from taking aggressive action against online operators it deems to be serving Dutch punters without permission. Betsson, which operates the Dutch-facing Oranje and Kroon brands, is now arguing that the KSA lacks the legal justification for taking such action.

In a statement published on its website last Friday, Betsson notes that the European Commission (EC) suspended infringement proceedings against the Netherlands a decade ago based on the country’s pledge to adopt an online gambling policy more respectful of EU rules regarding open trade between member states.

Based on the Netherlands’ seeming inability to formally adopt a new “fair and transparent” online gambling policy – which Betsson suspects won’t be forthcoming “until after the next election in four years from now” – the company believes the KSA’s new enforcement policy against EU-licensed online operators justifies the EC reopening its original infringement proceedings.

Betsson insists that its Dutch-facing operations “have been in line with the prioritization criteria” introduced by the KSA in 2012, but the KSA had moved the regulatory goalposts “without any legal basis.” As such, Betsson says it will continue to operate in accordance with the KSA’s 2012 criteria “but we will not change operations further as the change in policy has no legal basis.’

Betsson notes that the European Union’s top court recently ruled that Hungary had no authority to sanction EU-licensed gambling operators due to the country’s gambling rules having been found in violation of EU trade laws.

The KSA hasn’t been shy about slapping six-figure fines against online gambling operators it deems to be flouting its edicts, but collecting these fines has proven a much tougher task. In a statement issued last week, KSA CEO Marja Appelman called on her counterparts in other EU states to impose a “European solution” for collecting fines from EU-based operators.