Dutch regulator fines Tipico ahead of legal market launch

Tipico has been slapped with a €531,000 fine.
Tipico has been slapped with a €531,000 fine.

Just days ahead of the launch of licensed online gambling in the Netherlands, the regulator KSA has fined Tipico €531,000 for offering gambling illegally.

The Netherlands.- The Dutch regulator de Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) has fined the gambling operator Tipico €531,250 for offering services to Dutch customers illegally. The move comes after the Netherlands promised a clampdown on illegal gambling ahead of the launch of the country’s licensed online gambling market on October 1.

The KSA said it began an investigation into Tipico on January 10, 2020. It found that the company’s Malta-licensed site Tipico.com could be accessed by Dutch IP addresses and that the Netherlands appeared as an option in “a number of menus” in the site’s sign-up process. 

It found that Tipico offered a number of products that were not permitted in the Netherlands, including online casino and live sports betting, and offered no message to clarify that players from the Netherlands were not permitted to use its products. It also claimed that there was no evidence that Tipico verified players’ ages.

KSA made several follow-up investigations and found no change. On one occasion a member of staff deposited €10 using e-banking tool Sofort, after which a Dutch language menu appeared. On another occasion, in September 2020, a supervisor was able to register for an account.

When asked for information on its transaction history, Tipico reported that it processed 4,974 transactions involving Dutch bank accounts between April 30 and July 31, 2020.

Tipico submitted a response to the regulator in January 2021, claiming that it had not committed any violation because it was not targeting the Netherlands, the only message in Dutch being from its payment processor. It also claimed that it verified players’ ages.

However, the KSA said that although its primary focus was on taking action against operators with a “specific and unmistakable focus on the Netherlands”, the Gambling Act deems this to be irrelevant in determining whether a gambling offering is illegal.

It said it did not matter that the Dutch message was from a third-party supplier and claimed that Tipico’s assertion that it verified ages “had not been substantiated”.

Under the Dutch criminal code, the maximum possible fine KSA could issue would be €870,000. In this case, it decided to issue a €200,000 fine for offering unlicensed gambling, plus three additional €75,000 fines for offering live bets, for offering online casino and for charging customers an “inactivity fee” for holding money in their account without playing.

It then increased the total of the four fines by 25 per cent since Tipico had failed to prove it had verified players’ ages.

Last week, the KSA announced it would increase its fines for unlicensed operators that offer products to customers in the Netherlands.

The KSA has also published new reporting regulations for the online gambling market. The rules, which build on previously announced reporting requirements, give licensees 72 hours to report serious incidents that could negatively impact trust in the sector.

See also: Dutch regulator and media watchdog sign gambling ad protocol

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