PokerStars Fined €400,000 by Dutch Gambling Regulator

  • Investigation began in 2018 and found PokerStars.eu site attracting players from Netherlands
  • Payment tools and player contact forms included Dutch-language options
  • Two country-based problem gambling programs indicated site was targeting Dutch players
  • Company may not be able to apply for 2021 license to operate under new liberalized regime
The Stars Group online gambling operator has been fined by the Dutch regulator after PokerStars.eu was found to have targeted Dutch players without a license. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

The Stars Group in hot water

Earlier this week, the gambling regulator in the Netherlands announced it was dishing out a €400,000 ($364,000) fine to The Stars Group (TSG) after their PokerStars brand allowed Dutch customers to play online.

the company had not been given a Dutch gambling license

The Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) highlighted that customers residing in the Netherlands were allowed to play on the PokerStars.eu domain, even though the company had not been given a Dutch gambling license.

Dutch players allowed to gamble

Regulatory infringements included allowing customers to gamble even though they were using a Dutch IP address, as well as enabling players to pay via iDeal, a payment processor located in the Netherlands which also offers a Dutch-language service. Additionally, despite having an excluded territories list, the Netherlands were not included.

a sign that the company was targeting Dutch nationals

In 2018, the KSA decided to launch an investigation into the company, which highlighted around 33,000 Dutch accounts. In a six-week period last summer, iDeal tracked 225,000 transactions from these players. Problem gamblers were also offered help via two Netherlands-based programs, which the regulator highlighted as a sign that the company was targeting Dutch nationals.

Gambling awareness backfired

PokerStars has been working with the KSA on most issues. It claimed to have included the gambling awareness websites based in the Netherlands on the regulator’s recommendations, but has since commented that it “regrets that this is now being used against” the company.

In January 2019, PokerStars.eu announced it was dropping iDeal as a payment option following the regulatory checks. It also deleted the Dutch-language contact forms from its website at the same time.

Despite these measures, the KSA has confirmed it will be fining the company €400,000.

TSG may have lost out on new license

While TSG has yet to confirm whether it plans to appeal, the company may have lost its chance to obtain a Dutch license when the Netherlands launches its new online gambling field on January 1, 2021.

This is because, according to regulatory rules, any operator found guilty of serving the local market without a license will need to wait at least two years before becoming eligible to apply.

The Dutch government has confirmed it will start accepting license applications in July of next year.