Prevention of illegal and criminal practices
The Netherlands Gaming Authority has attached high importance to countering illegal online gambling offerings and allowing consumers to participate in game in a sage and reliable environment.
Illegal Internet games
The Netherlands Gaming Authority agitates against online gambling operators offering their games to the Dutch gambling market. Why is that? At present, Dutch law does not contain provisions on online gambling offerings. The Draft Bill on Remote Gambling was submitted to the House of Representatives to address the issue. Until the Remote Gambling Act enters into force, it is illegal, and thus prohibited, to provide online gambling offerings. The Netherlands Gaming Authority will continue to impose fines on online gambling operators offering their games without having a license.
Due to the massive number of Internet offerings, the Netherlands Gaming Authority prioritises targeting those online gambling operators meeting one or more priority criteria:
- The website the gambling offering is made available on ends on .nl; and/or
- The website the gambling offering is made available on is available in Dutch; and or
- Advertisements aimed at the Dutch market appear on the radio, the television or in print.
Providers not meeting these priority criteria are not in the clear, however. For that online gambling provider still offers games of chance without having a license to do so and can therefore at a later stage still be the target of enforcement activities. In addition to dealing with online gambling operators, the Netherlands Gaming Authority also acts against the organisations facilitating online gambling offerings, like payment service providers and advertisers.
In addition to imposing fines, the Netherlands Gaming Authority also employs other measures to counter the offering of illegal online gambling offerings. This past year, it committed itself to preventing and removing advertising by online gambling operators and blocking payments to them.
Blocking payments to illegal online gambling operators
In 2014, the Netherlands Gaming Authority signed an agreement with a number of payment services providers to tackle illegal online gambling offerings. Under this agreement, the payment services providers would refuse to provide their services to illegal online gambling operators previously fined by the Netherlands Gaming Authority and cease any existing service provision to such operators. In addition to observing the agreement, some of the signatories have voluntarily, i.e., without invoking the agreement, ceased the provision of their services to online gambling operators. The Netherlands Gaming Authority regularly provides the parties to the agreement with a list stating the details of the operators fined by it. Moreover, the effect of the agreement is annually assessed by all partners. The first assessment was performed in October 2015.
Publication of sanctions
The Netherlands Gaming Authority publishes all sanctions it has imposed on its website. Publication not increases transparency, but also serves as a preventative measure, as it keeps other illegal online gambling operators from operating on the Dutch market.
Betting terminals, which allow a consumer to bet on sports games by computer in, for instance, a café or call shop, are banned from the Dutch market. Betting terminals are not just illegal, they are also undesirable, primarily due to the risk they pose to the gambler. For the (technical) reliability of the equipment and software used cannot be verified. In addition, such unregulated gambling evades any and all financial and fiscal accountability of income and expenditure, including the payment of amounts won, while it is not known what attention is given to preventing excessive gambling and gambling addiction. Moreover, given the lack of supervision inherent to such terminals, minors, too have access to them. This may result in gambling addiction and, consequently, to rising gambling debts or other social problems. Nor do addicted players receive the necessary care, whereas casino staff, for instance, are suitably trained to recognise problem behaviour and help the player. Finally, these terminals may be used to launder large amounts of money. The betting terminal market is an illegal market worth an estimated millions of euros per annum.
To counter the placement and use of betting terminals, the Netherlands Gaming Authority works closely together with the police, municipal authorities and the Tax and Customs Administration. The Netherlands Gaming Authority receives reports on betting terminals being used somewhere from various sources, like consumers directly reporting to the Netherlands Gaming Authority, reports made via the Meld Misdaad Anoniem anonymous report line, or reports made to the police or the municipal authorities. Wherever necessary, the Netherlands Gaming Authority supports the police and municipal authorities in investigating betting terminals and taking appropriate enforcement action. While the municipal authorities have the independent authority to act against the use of betting terminals, they often lack the required knowledge to take proper action.
Informing municipal authorities
The Municipalities Act, the Licensing and Catering Act and general municipal byelaws all provide the municipal authorities with the power to independently take action against establishments featuring betting terminals. Netherlands Gaming Authority staff by way of personal meetings inform municipal authorities of how to take appropriate enforcement action themselves. This power held by the municipal authorities with respect to betting terminals was the topic of a television and radio broadcast in January 2015. Refer to this video. Since then, the Netherlands Gaming Authority has started training municipal enforcement staff, thus increasing the ability to become aware of and take action against betting terminals.
Marc Merx, head of the Enforcement Departement
' In 2015, we not only dealt with illegal operators doing great harm to the public interest, but also took our first steps to being able to address the organizations making such illegal offerings available.'