37 Dutch firms targeted by KSA for illegally operating gaming machines

The Kansspelautoriteit (KSA), the Dutch Gambling Authority (DGA), has taken action against 37 companies for operating gaming machines without the appropriate licences. 

Following an investigation into 290 catering businesses which were offering gaming machines on their premises – chosen by a random sample – the KSA found that 37 firms were illegally maintaining the products. 

All 37 operators were notified by the KSA and ceased operating the machines, with the exception of one, the regulator is preparing to ‘impose an order subject to a penalty’ against this latter firm. 

Additionally, the KSA has also noted that the incident may factor into its assessment as to whether the single operator will be able to keep its gaming machine licence. 

Explaining the licensing conditions for gaming machines, the KSA stated: “The Gaming Authority issues operating licences. An operating permit states that exploitation may only take place in places for which an presence permit has been issued. 

“An attendance permit, which is issued by municipalities, guarantees, among other things, that gaming machines are only present at locations that are mainly visited by adults. These are so-called high- threshold catering locations. An open and naked gambling machine in a snack bar, for example, is not allowed.”

Concluding its statement, the KSA stressed the need for joint cooperation between itself and municipal authorities, observing that the regulator ‘supervises the operators, the municipalities supervise compliance with the regulations in the presence permit’. 

“The KSA calls on municipalities to actively check for the presence of a presence permit in the case of gaming machines,” the regulator concluded. 

The regulatory investigation – initiated to ensure criminal activity such as underage gambling, fraud and money laundering are not being committed at ‘so-called high-threshold catering locations’ – is the latest in a long line of KSA probes of and warnings to the Netherlands gambling space.

Notably, since the regulation of the Dutch online betting and gaming market on 1 October 2021, concerns have been repeatedly raised by public figures in the Netherlands about a proliferation of advertising – it is accurate that spend by gambling firms on marketing in the country has increased significantly since the launch of the KOA Act licencing regime. 

These concerns have prompted the KSA to reiterate warnings to betting operators on their marketing responsibilities, informing Dutch market incumbents that irresponsible behaviour could lead to greater restrictions on the industry – at a time when some politicians have been calling for further limitation of advertising. 

Although KSA Chair Rene Jesen had previously observed that advertising performs a necessary function of the KOA Act in that it directs bettors to licensed providers, he later noted that firms must take ‘sufficient responsibility’ as political patience on betting marketing is ‘very limited’.

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