Netherlands’ New Online Gambling Fines Are ‘Terrifying’

Flag of the Netherlands
The Netherlands gambling authorities are increasing the country’s already hefty fines on gambling operators who break the law.

30-second summary

  • The Netherlands is increasing its already hefty fines on errant gambling operators
  • With the approval of the Remote Gambling Bill, online gambling is now legal in the country
  • The KSA will now be able to dish out more extensive types of fines

Stricter penalties

Lawmakers in the Netherlands finally have given the green light for online gambling in the country. However, this does not mean that the regulators will be taking their foot off the pedal. If anything, they are going to come down even harder on any errant operators.

The regulators are planning to make their regulations and punishments even stricter. Some people are labeling these new changes as “terrifying.”

The regulatory body in the country is the Kansspelautoriteit (KSA). As of March 1, the lowest fine will increase from $170,000 (£129,000) to $227,000 (£172,000). The exact amount of the fine will depend on how serious the offense is.

More flexibility for the KSA

Fines have been increased for specific offenses. For example, they will be increased by $85,000 (£64,000) for illegal live betting, for imposing fees on inactive users, and for those who say they can legally offer their services when they actually can’t. These are issues that the regulators have to deal with frequently, so they are increasing the fines to will as a deterrent.

Fines will also increase based on a new scale and the number of times an operator has been found guilty of breaking certain laws. If a warning is ignored, there will be a 25% increase in the fine. If someone is found to be targeting those who are underage or have a gambling problem, there will be a 50% increase. Finally, those who have already been fined by the KSA fine will have the fine doubled.

Those who cooperate with KSA investigations may see a reduction of 25% in the fine. Talking about these stricter measures, the chairman of the KSA says, “The fines we used were not terrifying enough.”

Introduction of legal online gambling

The Remote Gambling bill was introduced in 2016, but it was not approved by the upper house of the Netherlands parliament until February.

Licensing online gambling in the country has been debated since 2010. Now it will soon become a reality as part of this bill. In the meantime, there has been a significant problem with offshore operators illegally targeting Netherlands residents.

With legalization, Dutch residents can get their fix, and the government also benefits through increased tax revenues. The law imposes a 31% tax on online and offline gambling. Portions of this tax will go toward operating the KSA, and some of the revenues will help fund programs for treating gambling addiction.

There will be further debate on giving the KSA more wide-ranging powers. This includes potentially allowing them to ban Dutch IP addresses that are trying to use illegal offshore online gambling platforms.

It is expected that license applications will start at the beginning of 2020. It will probably be January 2021 by the time operators will be open for business.

KSA coming down hard

For several years, the KSA has been ramping up its fight against illegal operators. In 2018, there were fines of more than $1.95m (£1.48m), compared to $1.1m (£830,000) in 2017 and $453,000 (£343,000) in 2016.

In 2018, there were 23 separate sanctions, including seven admin penalties, of which five involved internationally licensed operators: Bet at Home, Betsson, CyberRock, Mr Green, and William Hill.

Dutch authorities are also cracking down on video game loot boxes. After investigations, it was ruled in April 2018 that four of the ten most popular video games were violating the country’s gambling laws. Operators of those games had the option to change them or be given bans and fines.