The Netherlands gambling regulator Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) has warned that while it will be lenient towards those organising bingo as a social activity under lockdown, it will not hesitate to act if games are organised to earn money or scam players.
The KSA said it had seen an increase in bingo games being offered online amid the ongoing novel coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis. Such games, in which a player can win a prize based on luck, were generally only permitted with a licence, it noted.
However, the regulator added that it was generally relaxed about this increase in activity.
“The KSA understands that in these times there are initiatives to provide a fun pastime for people, and make them feel as if they are out of isolation without having to leave their own home,” it said.
“These often take the form of online bingo games organised by well-meaning people. In view of the special circumstances, the KSA has decided to temporarily be lenient in these cases.”
However, it added, this leniency would quickly disappear in cases where bingo was organised to generate revenue or to scam players.
“In other words, for those who see an opportunity to take advantage of the current situation,” the KSA said.
The regulator warned any games that were not organised for purely altruistic reasons would be targeted, meaning organisers that would look to earn money from online bingo. Any games in which players are asked to pay to enter games, allowed minors to participate, or which are organised by minors would quickly be shut down.
Furthermore, if a game’s organiser had previously been targeted by the KSA or the Dutch authorities for illegal gambling or money laundering, this would give rise to serious doubts about the reliability of the organiser or integrity of the game.
Players were also warned to be wary of requests for online payments made by bingo organisers, and told consumers that any offer that sounded too good to be true was generally unlikely to be legitimate.
The KSA becomes the second operator to issue a warning over bingo in the past week, after Denmark’s Spillemyndigheden spoke out after seeing a rise in unlicensed games being organised.
With organisers shifting games online or even as ‘drive-in’ events where players stay in their cars to participate, the regulator warned that any offering prize or requiring players buy tickets to participate were illegal.