Dutch regulator hands PokerStars €400,000 fine

23 September 2019

Dutch gambling regulator Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) has fined The Stars Group €400,000 (£353,442/$439,500) for operating without a licence in the country, via the PokerStars.eu domain.

The KSA carried out an investigation into the PokerStars.eu site during the second half of 2018 and identified a number of factors that showed the site was targeting Dutch consumers.

In its findings, the KSA said the site was accessible from the Netherlands despite The Stars Group not holding a licence in the country, while customers were able to deposit funds using iDEAL, an online payment method only available in the Netherlands.

Other factors included an in-site contact form published in Dutch language and the mention of two Dutch problem gambling organisations. In addition, the Netherlands was not mentioned in a list of countries from which gambling via the website was not permitted.

The KSA also noted that the Netherlands classes poker as a game of chance, and only Holland Casino is allowed to offer real-money poker services at one of its land-based sites. 

Online gambling, including poker, is currently illegal in the Netherlands, though the country is set to launch a regulated market in January 2021 after the Dutch Senate in February passed the Netherlands’ Remote Gambling Act.

New online gaming laws will come into force from July 1, 2020, subject to final approval from the Ministry of Justice and Security. After this, the KSA will draw up licence conditions ahead of the proposed launch date six months later.

Only operators that have had no activity in the country for two years prior to the introduction of legislation will be eligible for a new online licence.

The KSA has issued a series of fines ahead of the new law coming in to place, with Kindred Group's Trannel International subsidiary last month also being handed a fine of €470,000. Kindred has since said that it intends to appeal the decision.

For more analysis on the Netherlands, see our Market Monitor report