Dutch regulator slams gambling sites pitching ‘corona-free’ play


netherlands-online-gambling-coronavirus-free-warningOnline gambling operators shouldn’t link their brands to a global pandemic, according to the Netherlands’ gambling regulator.

On Tuesday, the Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) gambling regulatory agency issued a notice saying it had become aware of “additional activities by illegal online gambling providers and their advertisers.” Specifically, these digital rapscallions were seeking to “take advantage of the fact that arcades and gaming casinos have had to close their doors due to the coronavirus.”

KSA chief René Jansen said that, among the “completely objectionable” marketing tactics being employed by these internationally licensed gambling sites, was luring unsuspecting Dutch gamblers into “what is known as a Corona-free offering.”

The KSA’s missive didn’t identify which sites may have been offering pandemic-free online gambling to Dutch punters, but it did say that the KSA would pay “keen interest” to all parties involved. Similar pitches “will weigh heavily in a possible application” for a Dutch online gambling license when that process gets underway on January 1, 2021.

Trouble is, the KSA doesn’t expect Dutch-approved online operators to formally launch services until mid-2021. Meanwhile, concern over the Covid-19 pandemic has indeed resulted in last week’s unprecedented decision to shutter all 14 Holland Casino branches until at least April 6.

Which leaves Dutch punters with no legal gambling options for nearly a month, meaning international online gambling sites are the only game in town (despite being based outside the country). So maybe cut these sites a break, as they’re only filling a temporary void, although we agree that the virus pitch is a little ‘too soon.’

The Netherlands had 1,705 confirmed coronavirus infections as of Tuesday, 292 more than reported on Monday. The number of coronavirus-related deaths nearly doubled from 24 to 43 over that same span, according to the RIVM public health institute. The government has ordered the closure of cafés, bars and any other venue at which over 100 individuals might usually congregate.

Disturbingly, of the coronavirus-related cases that were placed in intensive care in Dutch hospitals, over half were under the age of 50, bucking trends in other countries that showed individuals over-60 to be most vulnerable to serious complications from infection.