Dutch lawmakers have ruled in favour of local gambling regulator Kansspelautoriteit (KSA), upholding its right to levy massive fines on foreign online gambling providers offering their products and services to players in the country without a local license. The District Court in the Hague determined that the local regulatory body indeed has the legal authority to sanction international casino operators that violate local laws with six-figure fines.
The fines in question are targeted at three specific gambling providers which operate under international licenses but have not been granted a permit from the Dutch Kansspelautoriteit to legally offer their services within the country. The first gaming provider to suffer from the Court’s decision is Co-Gaming Limited which holds a Maltese license and was levied a hefty penalty amounting to €180,000 as of 2015. At the time, the company was operating under the name of ComeOn Europe. Two other Gibraltar-regulated gambling companies, Mansion Online Casino Ltd. and ONISAC Ltd., were penalised with a combined fine of €150,000 a year earlier.
All three violators have reportedly paid their fines but nevertheless opted to appeal the penalties and took their cases to the District Court in the Hague. At the present moment, it is unclear whether the three gaming operators would attempt an appeal to the Council of State of the Netherlands, which would be the last avenue of overturning the current ruling of the Dutch District Court. Despite that, the Dutch regulator Kansspelautoriteit released a statement to express its satisfaction at the District Court’s decision and its support of KSA’s policies, which it stated work in the best interest of the local players.
The Netherlands is currently in a slow process of introducing various amendments to its current legislation in regard to interactive gambling. The said amendments aim for opening the local online gambling market to foreign competition, preventing problem gambling, and enforcing stricter measures for a more adequate player protection.
Nevertheless, the District Court ruled that unlicensed online gambling activities are still unlawful within the territory of the country and therefore the Dutch regulatory authority was within its right to fine unlicensed casino operators offering their services to Dutch players. The District Court argued that the course of action the KSA has taken was in compliance with the laws enforced in the European Union.
This last argument is the main area of contention between Dutch authorities and various foreign online casino operators like Betsson. Earlier in July 2017, the operator put in an appeal to the European Commission, demanding it to renew the infringement proceedings against the Dutch gambling regulator.
The said proceedings were launched back in 2006 but were put on hold, following the Dutch authorities’ assurance that they would modernise and open the online gambling market to foreign competition. Betsson argues that relaunching the infringement procedures is necessary since the country has failed at implementing a legal framework that complies with the laws in the European Union.