The Dutch Gaming Authority, Kansspelautoriteit (KSA), has issued a new fine against Shark77 Limited, referred to as Shark77 by the regulator, which will now have to pay €900,000 ($980,000) for offering unlicensed products in the regulated gambling market in the Netherlands.
The KSA examined a website connected to the company, to wit www.18bet.com, and established several breaches of the country’s existing gambling laws. According to the KSA, during the course of the investigation, the regulator was able to prove that the website remained accessible from Dutch IPs.
Furthermore, consumers using personal data in the Netherlands were able to register and set up accounts, as well as participate in games of chances. The KSA argues that no technical measures were put in place to limit Dutch players’ access to the products available on the website.
The regulator reported on the available games found at 18Bet, which included options such as video slots and jackpot games, adding that there were various available bonus inducements to further incentivize players into registering or playing. There were also issues with age verifications, the regulator confirmed.
Shark77 has denied wrongdoing and argued that the company was operating under a license issued by the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) and that it had not intentionally targeted Dutch customers or attempted to solicit registration in markets where the company is not licensed to operate.
Shark77 insisted that no fine should be imposed on the grounds put forward by the regulator. The KSA acknowledge the argument but riposted that even though the company was operating under an MGA license, it still had its products available in the Netherlands, which made it an illegal operator.
Users were able to deposit and withdraw from Dutch bank accounts which was another argument the regulator used to prove to Shark77 that the company was in breach of the country’s laws. In its verdict, the KSA simply stated that in order to offer any online games of chance in the Netherlands, a company must obtain the appropriate license.
This is done to protect consumers and ensure that they enjoy a fair play and are protected under existing state laws. René Jansen, the Chairman of the KSA, explained that providers that operated without the necessary licenses could have an "attractive effect" on players, and thus jeopardize their safety by not upholding the same integrity, protection, and safety standards that are common in the Dutch gambling market in the first place.
"We consider this serious and highly undesirable. Dutch players deserve the good protection of providers with a license from the KSA," Jansen concluded. Previously, the regulator enacted a similar penalty against Toto Online, imposing a €400,000 ($420,000) fine against the company.
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