Dutch regulator warns over illegal poker amid Covid-19
Dutch gambling regulator Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) has warned consumers over the dangers of taking part in illegal poker tournaments, after noting an increase in such events during the ongoing novel coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis.
The KSA said it had uncovered illegal tournaments in Hoofddorp, Hoorn, Capelle aan den IJsel, Zaandam, Tilburg and Rotterdam, handing out fines to participants and also to individuals who organised the events.
Holland Casino is the only operator currently permitted to offer casino games, including poker, under regulations set out in the Dutch Gambling Act. Poker is only permitted outside Holland Casino locations under certain conditions, such as if an event takes place in a closed circle and not commercially.
This will change once the regulated igaming market opens for business, from 1 July next year.
As such, the regulator warned consumers it is unable to offer protection in unregulated poker events, such as ensuring tournaments are run fairly, responsible gambling measures are in place and age control is carried out.
The KSA’s head of enforcement, Marc Merx, said the primary reason for the rise in illegal activities in recent weeks is due to regulated gambling venues having been forced to temporarily close due to the government-ordered coronavirus measures.
“Enforcement activity in the time of coronavirus focuses on meetings of people; a logical consequence is that they discover illegal poker tournaments,” Merx said.
“A second explanation is that more illegal poker tournaments are organised because Holland Casino, the only one that is allowed to offer commercial poker for money in the Netherlands, is closed.”
The warning comes after the KSA last week also warned that while it would be lenient towards those organising bingo as a social activity under lockdown, it would 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 coronavirus crisis. Such games, in which a player can win a prize based on luck, were generally only permitted with a licence, it noted.
The Danish Gambling Authority (Spillemyndigheden) issued a similar warning after noting a rise in unlicensed bingo games being offered both online or in physical venues.