Dutch Gaming Authority Hits Casino.com with €450,000 Fine
The Netherlands Gaming Authority, the Kansspelautoriteit (KSA), has announced the latest in a series of large fines assessed against offshore operators who offer online gambling services to Dutch citizens. This time around, the Dutch finehammer has fallen upon Casino.com and its parent company, Onisac Limited, in the amount of €450,000 (over US $508,000).
Whether or not the KSA has the means to collect the fine is wholly uncertain, and such announcements of fines are often symbolic. The usual purpose of such fines is to warn Dutch citizens that sites such as Casino.com offer no protections to Dutch players, and that the site is unregulated and noncompliant in terms of being licensed and approved to offer such services to residents of the Netherlands.
As a KSA announcement on the fine against Casino.com and Onisac noted, “Tackling illegal online gambling is a priority of the KSA, as laid down in the [agency’s] 2018-2019 Surveillance Agenda. There is no control over a fair game, measures to prevent gambling addiction and participation by minors.” A mission statement authored a year ago by the KSA (offered via the hyperlink) details some of the steps the KSA continues to take to provide protection against vulnerable Dutch populations, in particular any underage gamblers who might want to try to gamble on unregulated sites.
Onisac, based in Gibraltar, appears to have finally blocked access to Casino.com to Dutch online punters, according to the KSA statement.
The total fine of 450,000 euros has three separate elements, per the KSA:
- A €200,000 fine for offering games of chance online and making them available for Dutch players;
- Another €200,000 fine for this not being the first time, since the KSA already slapped a fine on Onisac and Casino.com back in 2013;
- A €50,000 euro fine was imposed because Onisac and Casino.com charged “administrative fees” that the KSA found to unreasonable and excessive, if not usurious.
As René Jansen, chairman of the KSA, stated, ‘This is a repeat offender. That makes the violation extra harmful and is reason to double the fine.”
The KSA announcement also detailed the excessive administrative fees, which were largely assessed against inactive accounts. The agency’s investigation showed that dormant Casino.com players were charged a five-percent administration fee each month once the accounts had been active for 180 days. According to the KSA, there was also a $15 minimum (and a $500 maximum), suggesting that small-balance accounts were quickly cleaned out and wiped from the books. Further, Casino.com sent out only a single dormancy warning via email, 30 days before the rolling admin fees were to begin.
The KSA assailed this as “an unreasonable disadvantage for consumers,” which seems a legitimate depiction of the practice.