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Dutch regulator issues over €26m in financial penalties

| By Robert Fletcher
Dutch gambling regulator de Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) has issued over €26.0m (£23.0m/$27.6m) in fines to five operators after ruling they breached rules by offering online gambling in the country without a licence.
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Penalties were given to N1 Interactive, Videoslots, BetPoint Group, Probe Investments and Fairload Limited in December 2022, but were not published until today (3 March) after the operators asked the court to stop the fines being made public.

However, the court turned down the request earlier this week, allowing KSA to publish the details of each case in full. 

N1 Interactive was handed the largest fine of €12.6m for a repeated violation, having first been penalised in July 2021 for the same offence of operating without a licence in the country.

Videoslots was fined €9.9m for incorrectly displaying the mark of KSA on its website, despite having not received a licence from the regulator to offer online gambling in the Netherlands. KSA said its branding is a way for players to check if an operator is licensed. 

Meanwhile, Betpoint Group was fined €1.8m for operating without the relevant licence in the Netherlands, while Probe Investments was issued a penalty of €1.1m and Fairload €900,000 for the same reasons.

KSA added that all fines took into account the turnover of each operator, in line with its new fines policy that was adopted in September of 2021.

“Offering online games of chance to players in the Netherlands is only allowed with a licence from the KSA,” the regulator said. “Strict rules and regulations apply to ensure that there is a safe legal offer, whereby players are assured of a fair game and are protected against gambling addiction.”

KSA chairman René Jansen added: “We mean business. Player safety is paramount. A fine is to hit where it hurts, so in the wallet. With such amounts, we think we can impose an appropriate sanction, given the illegal earnings.”

Videoslots response

Prior to publication of the fines, Videoslots earlier this week said that it would challenge the ruling, accusing the regulator of abusing the mystery shopping regime.

In preparation for a KSA application in April 2022, Videoslots said the regulator’s logo was mistakenly visible for a short period of time on its website before being quickly removed.

When the KSA became aware of the mistake, Videoslots said the regulator tried to sign up as a Dutch customer and failed because of measures in place. KSA was then said to have gained unauthorised access by pretending to be a German customer, managing to make a deposit and a single bet of 20 cents.

As soon as Videoslots learned a KSA official had unlawfully accessed its site, the operator said it implemented further measures to prevent this happening again.

However, KSA said Videoslots violated the Dutch Gaming Act by allowing access and issued the fine, with the operator having denied the allegation and confirmed it would challenge the decision.

“Videoslots does not target but restrict the Netherlands, so the Dutch Gaming Act does not apply to its services,” Videoslots deputy chief executive Ulle Skottling said. “No Dutch players were able to access our site during the disputed period and there was no violation as a result.

“It is absurd that the KSA should fine us after gaining unauthorised access. It is simply not possible to protect fully against unauthorised access, and the KSA has no guidelines on what measures are sufficient. 

“Furthermore, there was no demonstrable damage, and the interests of Dutch consumers were never compromised at any point. The KSA calculated the fine based on several guesstimates. There is no basis for it and all sense of proportionality is missing.

“Videoslots takes its legal and regulatory obligations extremely seriously, but we dispute the KSA’s actions and conclusions, which we believe are unlawful. We are confident of a positive outcome in this case.”

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