Dutch Gambling Regulator Issues Fine Against Curacao, Cyprus Operators
The Netherlands’ official gambling regulator, Kansspelautoriteit (KSA), has announced a fine of €350,000 (about $400,000) against a pair of international operators the KSA alleges have directly and deliberately marketed to Dutch online gamblers. The KSA announced the fines today (November 2) against CyberRock Entertainment NV and Honeydew Trading Limited. CyberRock is based in Curacao (until 2010 a part of the Netherlands Antilles), while Honeydew Trading is domiciled in Cyprus.
The fines announced by the KSA continue an ongoing crackdown by the Netherlands that targets international operators offering online gambling services to Dutch punters in violation of the Netherlands’ law. However, as is the case with many jurisdictions, levying such fines is not always equal to collecting them.
The two companies are cited in a release issued by the KSA as running at least two online sites offering their services entirely in Dutch: play2wincasino.com and supremeplay.com. Play2wincasino.com, according to a KSA statement, is listed as being owned by CyberRock, while the supremeplay.com site is listed as belonging to Honeydew. The two parent companies are tied together, however; CyberRock, per the KSA’s statement, is the sole owner of Honeydew Trading.
René Jansen, chairman of the board of directors of the KSA, said this: “Many Dutch people do not know that online gambling in the Netherlands is illegal. Protecting consumers is an important objective of the KSA, in addition to preventing gambling addiction and combating illegality. Gambling with an illegal provider implies that the consumer is not protected. He is not sure of a fair game. There is also no control of participation by vulnerable groups, such as minors.”
Beyond the boilerplate, there are a couple of intriguing subplots in play here. First is that Curacao is still technically a Dutch dependency despite being virtually autonomous, which has at times caused consternation in the Netherlands, since Curacao’s online-gambling regulatory “regime” (scare quotes necessary) is widely regarded as the most rubberized of any such rubber-stamp regulators around the globe. Curacao promised increased scrutiny of the sector in 2016, but those promises have proven to be as flimsy as, well, a Curacao-issued online gaming license. Whether the KSA succeeds in collecting this just-announced €350,000 fine indeed remains an open question.
The KSA’s announcement of the fine against the CyberRock family also understates by a good bit exactly how flagrant CyberRock has been in targeting Dutch gamblers. Besides the two Dutch-language sites referenced above, the KSA has also accused the CyberRock companies of operating several other unnamed sites that switch immediately from English to Dutch language when a Dutch visitor arrives to any of the sites’ home pages.
This appears to be a use of geolocation based on IP address for exactly the wrong purpose, to intentionally target the Netherlands-based gamblers when they could just as easily be geo-blocked from the same IP information. The KSA statement puts forth the matter in generic terms, making the point under a heading called “Settings”: “Online games of chance are not allowed under current legislation. Foreign providers of online games of chance must respect Dutch law. For example, they can adjust the settings of their websites so that they can not be seen with Dutch IP addresses (‘geoblocking’). In enforcing the law, the KSA focuses primarily on suppliers who focus on the Dutch consumer.”
For whatever it’s worth, the CyberRock gambling sites have already been blacklisted by most online-casino watchdogs already, so the Dutch fine is just another clawing effort targeting this bottom-feeding group. One affiliate site recently listed a large (though incomplete) number of CyberRock sites, all of which are well worth avoiding. They include: 21grandcasinos.co, casinobetcave.com, boombetcasino.com, casholotcasino.net, casinofiz.com, casinolust.net, crazywinner.co, denderacasino.com, eurofortunes.co, ezscratch.com, gibsoncasino.com, casinogofish.com, playtowincasinos.co, ricardoscasino.net, rockbetlive.co, saharasandscasino.net, slotpowers.com, slotsjackpot.co, supremeplay.com, traditioncasinos.co, tropicacasino.com, vanguardscasino.com, casinovegasamped.com, and vegasdayscasino.co.