Hillside New Media Malta (Hillside), bet365’s Malta-based operating company, has been fined €400,000 by the Dutch Gaming Authority, Kansspelautoriteit (KSA).
The company has found itself to be the latest target of the KSA’s enforcement campaign against betting operators that have violated tightened Dutch laws around advertising.
According to the regulator, Hillside ‘directed advertisements and bonuses’ to young adults, meaning those aged 18-24 under the regulatory standards, who had accounts with the firm between 26 October 2021 to 1 February 2022.
The investigation began following a broadcast of the TV programme Kassa, a consumer programme which conducts investigations into and tests of products and services.
“Vulnerable groups, such as young adults, must be given extra protection. The brains of young people are still developing,” the KSA explained.
“As a result, they are extra vulnerable to developing gambling addiction. Gaming providers must fully respect the rules intended to protect vulnerable groups. That did not happen here and therefore this fine.”
The imposition of stricter licensing conditions around marketing and advertising in the Netherlands occurred last year, amid a backdrop of political concern around a perceived surge in such marketing material since October 2021.
In line with regulations, Dutch licence holders must refrain from ‘un-targeted advertising’ – those aged between 18-24 cannot be exposed to marketing material, with any commercial ads targeted towards those in older age groups.
Enforcing another regulatory sanction last week, the KSA detailed that it had collected a €4.4m penalty from Gammix, although this was not imposed for advertising infractions but rather for unlicensed business activity.
First imposed in July 2022, the fine was a result of Gammix offering ‘illegal games of chance’ in the Netherlands, with the regulator setting a charge of €1.47m per week as long as unlicensed operations continued, with the maximum possible penalty being €4.5m.
In a recent update, the KSA stated after ‘several rechecks’ it found that Gammix was still offering its unlicensed products in the Netherlands, and so moved ahead with enforcement action despite the firm indicating that ‘it does not agree with this’.
Although the KSA has now completed the enforcement and collected a total of €4,410,000 from Gammix, the company can still challenge the decision.
René Jansen, KSA Chairman, said: ‘We have to press ahead when combating illegal supply. An order subject to periodic penalty payments is often effective within administrative law to stop a violation.
“Not in this case, because the violation has not completely ceased, so we take the next step. We do not want an order subject to periodic penalty payments to be ignored, because that would make the remedy less effective. Anyone who violates and continues to do so must pay. It’s that simple.’