Former Sheriff Gaming CEO Stjin Flapper Sues Netherlands for €75 Million

The saga of disgraced and disbanded Dutch gambling company Sheriff Gaming has returned to the news following the publication of a Dutch-language interview with Sheriff’s former CEO Stjin Flapper, in which Flapper has claimed to file a lawsuit for €75 million against the Netherlands government.  According to Flapper, in the interview at Financieele Dagblad (registration required), the Dutch government wrongly caused the collapse of Sheriff Gaming’s business empire when it arrested Flapper and two other executives of the small-to-middlin’ gambling network, brothers Maurice and Michel Gregoire.

Stijn Flapper (Source: Financieele Dagblad)

Stijn Flapper (Source: Financieele Dagblad)

Back in 2013, the three men were indicted and jailed as part of the investigation into the activities of Sheriff Gaming (later renamed as Bubble Group).  The charges included money laundering, tax evasion, illegal gambling enterprise and more, and a press release issued by Dutch authorities at the time alleged some the trio and others “probably earned money to trade in soft drugs.”

Those drug charges were later quietly dropped, even as the investigation into the Sheriff Gaming / Bubble Group gambling network’s activities continued.  Yet Stijn, according to this recent interview, asserts that he and the company did nothing wrong, acted within the parameters of “legal” online gambling according to Dutch law, and even at one point prior to the raids that effectively ended the Sheriff / Bubble enterprise, claims to have received a “tolerance letter” from Dutch authorities confirming that the Sheriff Gaming offerings were (more or less) legal.

However, Flapper’s interpretation of that letter, dated January 22, 2013, seems to differ from that of the Dutch authorities who sent it.  According to reports on the letter — noting that the actual letter does not appear to have been published online in its original form — Dutch authorities notified one of Sheriff Gaming’s sites, AmsterdamsCasino.com, about what was needed to be in compliance with Dutch laws.  The letter, sent to AmsterdamsCasino parent company North Dakota Enterprises (NDE), outlined three forbidden elements: having a Dutch domain, offering a Dutch-language product, or advertising products to Dutch gamblers.

By its very name — “AmsterdamsCasino.com” — even if using a “.com” domain instead of an “.nl” (Netherlands) one, Sheriff seems to have been marketing very clearly to a Dutch clientele.  Also not specifically denied by Stijn among his other claims is that Dutch gamblers were scattered among the customers of all seven Sheriff Gaming sites.  In addition to AmsterdamsCasino.com, Stijn and the Gregoire brothers owned and operated at least six other sites: AmsterdamsPoker, JackpotRed, TripleGold, Golden10Casino, Tanzoo and FruitLuck.

And as if that was the company’s mortal sin, but no… .  Sheriff Gaming’s fate within the gambling world was sealed when an insider told of the company’s crooked, cheating operations, including fixing the sites’ online slots jackpots so that they would never pay out a winner.  When one jackpot was accidentally hit, following a programming change that temporarily dropped the minimum bet required to enable the jackpot offering, Flapper and Sheriff Gaming refused to pay off the jackpot anyway.

Flapper denied those allegations again in the latest interview, but they are part of the public record of the case.  The whistleblower’s allegations have also aligned well to consumer reports of suspect happenings on those sites, which operated from 2008 to 2013.

Describing Flapper as a “slipper guy,” the whistleblower’s testimony included numerous excerpts such as this:

… I’m a former Sheriff employee and I know for a fact that things were not in order at Sheriff Gaming. Not only because Stijn, Michel and Maurice were behaving like outright criminals but also because Stijn Flapper is just too greedy and does not care about fair gaming or people with gambling addiction.

One thing that I’m sure of is that the slots were not paying out the percentages that were published (and approved by the AGCC). The AGCC (Alderney Gambling Control Commission) even came to us about a year ago for an audit and we had to “fix” all kinds of files and statistics to not risk a problem during the audit.

Another thing that often happened was that very big prizes and jackpots were deemed as “software failure” or “fraud” when a player won them. Often they just got a small part of the money that they had won or nothing at all when a player made too much fuss (and then they got blocked also). …

Take it all in, and it doesn’t appear that this €75 million will be headed for a successful conclusion.  “”I have done nothing illegal,” Stijn told the Dutch news outlet, in a brief interview.  “It’s [a witchhunt].  The prosecution continues [against] us while the
Dutch Gaming Authority tolerates dozens of internet casinos.”

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