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KSA issues €675,000 fine to Red Ridge Marketing

| By Marese O'Hagan
The Netherlands' regulator de Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) has issued a fine of €675,000 (£597,266/$735,793) to marketing firm Red Ridge Marketing for illegally advertising online gambling in the country.

This comes after KSA previously imposed an order on Red Ridge to halt the company from advertising illegally. However, KSA decided to impose the fine after the advertising continued.

“Promoters of illegal games of chance providers also receive our attention,” said René Jansen, KSA chairman. “They must also comply with the law, especially when it comes to protecting young adults.

“We will do everything we can to stop these practices.”

Promoting illegal play

KSA said that Red Ridge was penalised for promoting four specific websites – Casinojager.com, Casinovergelijker.net, Internetcasino-online.com and Nederlandseonlinecasino.com.

Each of the websites contained advertisements for operators that did not hold a licence in the Netherlands, violating article 1, (1)(a) of the country’s Betting and Gaming Act.

In its report of the investigation, KSA stated that the websites contained promotional text which communicated “careless and misleading statements”.

KSA also said that the websites’ content “may encourage immoderate participation by promoting unlimited play and wagering”, and also include negative statements about Cruks, the Netherlands’ self-exclusion service.

One of the more damning offences was found on the Casinojager.com website. KSA said that on the website, under a tab labelled “news” there was an article titled “Casino Without Licence” from 2 October 2021 which emphasised that players have more “freedom” playing on illegal online casinos compared to licensed casinos.

“Gambling at an unlicensed casino has its advantages,” the article reads. “There are less strict conditions regarding bonuses. The total of casinos is also a lot bigger. You will also have a little more freedom at an unlicensed casino.”

KSA also noted that from 1 May 2021 to 1 May 2022, 296,408 people based in the Netherlands visited Casinojager.com.

Further evidence

KSA said that Casinovergelijker.net featured text on its website that promoted Nordslot, despite the operator being unlicensed.

The promotional statement read: “Nordslot casino opened its virtual doors in the summer of 2021. The range of games is promising, the casino has an MGA licence and they also give away generous bonuses! The welcome bonus can be up to €700. So don’t miss this opportunity and sign up immediately!”

Meanwhile, Internetcasino-online.com featured a promotion regarding “top-rated” international casinos. Underneath text advertising this service, the following was included in what KSA described as “very small letters”:

“The affiliate acknowledges that promoting on Netherlands market resources and using Dutch language is subject to legal restrictions in Netherlands. Such actions will be considered a breach of general terms and conditions and will lead to the immediate account closure if disclosed.”

Turning to Nederlandseonlinecasino.com, KSA said the website was written in Dutch and contained information purporting the “advantages” of illegal online casinos.

“Do you want to play unlimited without taking into account the countless restrictions of Dutch online casinos?”, it reads. “Then you can opt for international online casinos. They also apply certain rules, but in most cases these are less strict than the Dutch gambling rules. This way you can play as long as you want at foreign casinos and deposit as much money as you want.”

Concluding the investigation

KSA said that upon investigating the websites, it found that none of them listed a responsible party as being in charge.

However, subsequent analysis found that Red Ridge Marketing was the domain holder for Nederlandseonlinecasino.com, and that one individual – whose name was redacted in the report – owned the domains for Casinojager.com, Casinovergelijker.net and Internetcasino-online.com. KSA said this individual is also the administrator of Red Ridge Marketing.

Gambling harm statistics

Separate to the Red Ridge Marketing’s fine, the Netherlands’ state secretary for public health, welfare and sport, Maarten van Ooijen, published provisional figures on gambling addiction in the country between 2016 and 2021.

According to the statistics, the number of people who reached out for help with a gambling addiction in the country fell by 10% from 2020, to 1,887 in 2021.

VAN Kansspelen Brancheorganisatie, the Netherlands’ gambling industry association, said that this statistic was very different to the country’s perception of gambling harms.

“These provisional figures negate the picture painted in politics and the media that the number of players with problematic gambling behaviour is rising sharply,” said the association.

Of the 1,887, 87% were men, while 13% were women. The average age was 35.

In addition, 17% of the total was aged 25 or under, while 9% were aged 55 or over.

Help for gambling harm made up 3.4% of the 54,865 people that reached out for support across various addictions in the Netherlands in 2021.

VAN Kansspelen Brancheorganisatie added that minimising gambling harm is a mission that all bodies must embark on together.

“Preventing gambling addiction is a joint task,” it continued. “VAN Kansspelen therefore considers it important that all parties involved (government, addiction care and industry) jointly commit themselves to up-to-date and clear data on the requests for help for addiction care.”

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