Dutch Gaming Authority Receives Hague Court Backing to Fine iGaming Operators

Published July 23, 2017 by Brett C

Dutch Gaming Authority Receives Hague Court Backing to Fine iGaming Operators

Kansspelautoriteit (Netherlands’ Gaming Authority) was recently given the green light to fine iGaming operators in contravention of the Netherlands online gambling laws.

The Dutch Gaming Authority (Kansspelautoriteit) has received the backing of The Hague District Court to impose 6-figure fines on iGaming operators flouting the online gambling laws of the Netherlands. In 2014, the DGA imposed substantial fines on multiple online casino companies with MGA licensing, including Mansion Online Casino and ONISAC, to the tune of €150,000 combined.

A year later, in 2015, the DGA imposed a stiffer penalty on ComeOn Europe, also licensed and regulated by the MGA. This time, the online casino was required to pay a punitive amount of €180,000 for intentionally targeting Dutch players. According to reports from the Dutch Gaming Authority (DGA) all the iGaming operators have already paid their fines.

The Hague District Court Weighs In

Recently, these online gaming operators have brought their case to the District Court of The Hague to appeal the ruling. The subsequent judgment of The Hague District Court upheld the fines levied against the operators, given that online gambling remains a prohibited activity in the Netherlands. There is a proviso that if the Dutch Gaming Authority registers the operator, it will be allowed to offer online gambling activity in the Netherlands.

Under current law, the DGA does not permit foreign-based operators to offer services in the Netherlands. Earlier in 2017, Kansspelautoriteit issued a fine of €170,000 against the Tiplix iGaming brand. In recent months, the Dutch Gaming Authority has adopted a particularly tough stance against foreign-licensed online gambling operators tapping into the Dutch market. If the new code gets approved, fines in the region of €820,000 may be imposed on online casinos and poker rooms offering their services to the Netherlands.

Senators Awaiting Gambling Bill

Despite the recent appeals, it remains to be seen whether the courts will overturn the ruling of The Hague District Court. The reasoning behind the stiff penalties is related to money flow. The Dutch authorities do not want online gambling revenues going to international operators – they want everything to be taxable under the Netherlands law, and for revenues to flow into government coffers.

There is currently a bill on Senators' desks in the Netherlands waiting to approve the liberalization of the gambling market in the country. It passed the lower house, and is now awaiting passage in the higher house. The authorities in the Netherlands believe that all actions being taken against foreign-based online gambling companies are in accordance with EU law. Current provisions indicate that chance-based games must not be in Dutch, or have a .com address. Further they are not allowed to be advertised in print, television or radio media.

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