KSA, Netherlands/Dutch gambling authority

KSA makes progress on illegal gambling investigations

The Dutch Gambling Authority, Kansspelautoriteit (KSA), still has illegal operators in its sites, according to a recent statement, amidst major regulatory changes in the Netherlands.

As it stands, the KSA’s investigation into illegal advertising is currently ongoing, with eight websites currently under the regulator’s spotlight. This probe could result in notice or takedown procedures or ‘enforcement interventions of a more coercive nature’.

The websites in question are the most viewed in the Netherlands which advertise illegal online casino games and circumvent the Cruks national self-exclusion system, according to the regulator.

Social media advertising is also on the KSA’s agenda, with 32 investigations conducted into illegal marketing via platforms such as Instagram and Facebook during the first half of the year, with suspected violations reported to Meta.

Betting advertising, in general, is a hot-button issue in the Netherlands currently, with a ban on ‘untargeted’ advertising – meaning advertising not specifically directed towards those aged 24 or over – coming into force on 1 July.

The KSA’s wider remit for 2023 will examine illegal gambling operations as a whole, not just the advertising of such products. Last year saw the regulator conclude investigations into unlicensed gambling operations with a resulting eight fines totalling €30m. As 2023 draws on, the KSA added that ‘various fine reports’ are currently being prepared.

So far, 2023 has seen three operators hit with orders ‘subject to periodic penalty payments’ – this essentially means that firms are ordered to cease illegal activity or face enforcement actions in the form of penalty charges.

Additionally, the authority has adapted to the different payment methods used by unlicensed firms, utilising ‘a range of payment options’ to prove that transactions can be made at illegal sites from the Netherlands.

Notably, the KSA has added cryptocurrency to the list of payment options and, in the first half of 2023, used Bitcoin in six different investigations, subsequently imposing a sanction against the websites under review.

As the Dutch market continues to mature over two-and-a-half years into re-regulation under the KOA Act, with the 24th licence being awarded to VBet earlier this year, the KSA retains an arsenal of enforcement measures, including fines and confiscation of material, as it makes clamping down on illegal gambling one of its top priorities.

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