Dutch Gambling Regulator to Issue €50,000 Fines for COVID-19 Ads

  • The KSA's decision increases the minimum fine for illegal operations by 25%
  • The new measure comes after some businesses advertised 'corona-free gambling'
  • Licensed land-based casinos are also not allowed to mention COVID-19 in their marketing
three Netherlands flags
The KSA will issue a €50,000 minimum fine to operators cashing in on the coronavirus crisis through their promotions. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Decision follows earlier warning

Following its warning earlier this week to operators using the current coronavirus panic to promote products, the Dutch gambling regulator Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) has gone one step further. Now, it will fine any business found flouting the rules an additional €50,000 ($53,650) if it mentions COVID-19 in any marketing material.

The regulator recently became aware of ‘corona-free gambling’ promotions, or “Coronavrij gokken,” by online and land-based providers. Its new measure intends to stop operators from referencing the pandemic to entice vulnerable customers.

25% increase on original fine

The latest update adds 25% to the previous illegal activity penalty for online operators, affiliates, review sites, and unlicensed land-based gambling businesses. The minimum fine now stands at €250,000 ($268,250). The amount could be increased if an advert is deemed to have severely breached the new regulations.

any reference to the coronavirus will be regarded as a breach

Land-based operators with licenses are also not allowed to mention COVID-19 in any type of marketing. While Article 4a of the Gambling Act already states that businesses must only undertake moderate advertising, the KSA has confirmed that any reference to the coronavirus will be regarded as a breach. This also applies to advertisers, including affiliate and review websites.

According to its statement, the KSA will not consider commendations regarding the current situation an offense. It added that “business notices by licensees that, in view of the current circumstances, they must cancel, adapt or postpone a game or a draw are not considered an endorsement.”

Casinos closed until early April

Online gambling is currently banned in the Netherlands, with land-based casinos being the only option. However, the country’s 14 casinos have been shut down until early April due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The KSA believes that illegal operators are “trying to take advantage of the current situation.” The regulator deems its decision to up the financial penalties to be a necessary measure.

The iGaming market is due to open in July 2021 after the Remote Gambling Act comes into force early next year. The Gross Gaming Revenue share of the Dutch market is expected to reach €300m ($322m) in its first year.

The regulator is known for dishing out large fines to operators who don’t play by its rules. Last year, it fined Unibet.eu’s parent entity Trannel International Limited €470,000 ($504,000) for providing Dutch-language payment channels. It also hit bwin, part of GVC Holdings, with a penalty of €350,000 ($375,000).

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