Kansspelautoriteit (KSA), the Dutch gaming authority, has issued €600,000 worth of fines to gambling operator Virtual Coin Gaming over illegal gambling offerings.
The Curacao-licensed operator was fined €500,000 (Around £450,000 or $613,000) by the regulator and an individual involved with the business was fined an additional €100,000.
As reported by iGamingBusiness, the KSA issued the fines after conducting an investigation into the operator between February 12, 2018, and October 1, 2018, and discovering that it had been offering online games illegally to Dutch customers via its www.futgalaxy.nl and nl.futgamer.com websites.
What’s more, the KSA found that minors or young adults had taken part in the chance-based games, some of which were themed on FIFA Ultimate Team – a loot box mechanic found in EA Sports’ FIFA video games which has been banned from the Netherlands.
The KSA has stated that it prioritises enforcement against unlicensed operators appealing to Dutch customers as Virtual Coin Gaming has done by including the Dutch language on the website, using the dot.nl website extension, and accepting Dutch payment service iDEAL.
Games of chance in the Netherlands are only allowed if a license has been granted under the Games Of Chance Act. Online games of chance, meanwhile, are completely prohibited.
This is set to change, however, with the implementation of the Remote Gambling Act in the Netherlands which will allow the country’s regulator to grant online gambling licenses under strict conditions, similarly to the UK Gambling Commission.
The regulation was originally set to launch in July 2020 before it was delayed to January 2021, and the regulation was delayed once more to March 1, 2021, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The Netherlands’ gambling market is expected to launch in September 2021, and the KSA has also sent out details of its license application process, requiring operators to provide the KSA with details of its policies across several issues as well as details on its in addiction prevention.
René Jansen, the Chairman of the Board Of Directors for KSA, told CasinoBeats: “The KSA considers it important that vulnerable groups, such as minors, are not exposed to gambling.
“For that reason, the KSA advocates a strict separation between gaming and gambling. Gamers are often young and therefore more prone to (developing) addiction. Gambling elements therefore do not belong in games.”
The news comes after former EA Sports President Peter Moore claimed that video game loot boxes are not a form of gambling despite being banned in several European countries and being investigated by the UK Government as part of its review of current gambling legislation.
UK Gambling Commission Launches New Consultations
The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has this month announced the launch of a new consultation on the methodology the organisation uses to research problem gambling within the UK.
The regulatory body announced the consultation last week while proposing an overhaul of its process for measuring data on gambling participation and problem gambling as part of a move to “set the standard for authoritative research”.
The Gambling Commission is seeking responses from a wide group, including licensees, academics, consumer interest groups, charities, and consumers. All interested parties will have until February 12, 2021.
As reported by FocusGN, the Commission’s main proposal is to replace the existing surveys carried out by telephone and online with a single methodology which the organisation says will be more efficient, timely, and cost-effective.
The Commission’s proposal suggests that it’s planning on using broader criteria to gather responses from larger demographics and consolidate questions regarding gambling prevalence and participation into single surveys.
As part of its proposal, the Commission has said it aims to ensure that the content of the survey can be adapted to keep up with market trends to represent the entirety of the United Kingdom.
Announcing the consultation, the UK Gambling Commission said: “We believe that this new approach will set the standard for authoritative research into gambling behaviour.”
“The Commission is ambitious about improving the quality, robustness and timeliness of our statistics. We therefore set out a commitment in our 2020/21 Business Plan to ‘review our approach to measuring participation and prevalence and publish conclusions.'”
Back in November, the Commission launched another consultation regarding remote customer interaction. The organisation hopes to gain insight from industry stakeholders on whether there should be stronger requirements for online operators when it comes to identifying customers who may be at risk of gambling harm and what preventative actions operators should take.
The Commission’s consultation will also review proposals which aim to strengthen the expectations of operating an online gambling business.
The proposed preventive actions under the consultation include improved affordability checks and actions for customers who may be at risk. The Commission hopes these new actions will help prevent gambling-related harm and better protect consumers.
A statement on the UKGC website reads: “Remote gambling operators already have the capability of identifying customers who may be harmed by gambling. Our evidence shows that the industry has not used this capability sufficiently to reduce harms.
“We are therefore consulting on stronger requirements that will help ensure remote gambling operators do more to identify consumers who may be harmed by gambling and to interact and take action sufficiently early and effectively to prevent harm.”
“Whilst some operators have continued to improve their processes on customer interaction, our casework and lived experience evidence shows that operators are not setting thresholds for action at appropriate levels, and that they are not taking the action or acting quickly enough when they do identify risk of potential harm.”
The Commission extended the January 12, 2021, deadline for the consultation, which launched November 3 last year, due to “high engagement” and it will now run to February 9, 2021.
The consultations come amidst the UK Government’s review of current gambling legislation, which launched last month with a call for evidence.