Dutch regulator issues fines to LeoVegas and Royal Panda

10 October 2019

Dutch gambling regulator Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) has handed fines to LeoVegas and its Royal Panda brand for offering online games of chance in the Netherlands without a gaming licence. 

Malta-based online casino and betting operator Royal Panda was fined €400,000 (£360,064/$441,269), while parent company LeoVegas was ordered to pay €350,000.

Outlining its rulings, the KSA said that LeoVegas and the Royal Panda brand had clearly targeted players in the Netherlands, despite not having the necessary permissions to operate in the country.

The KSA found LeoVegas and Royal Panda had been running websites that were accessible with a Dutch IP address, while customers could use iDEAL, a payment method native to the Netherlands, on both sites.

The regulator monitored LeoVegas between August 2, 2018 and January 1, 2019, and found it had been offering various games of chance including online casino, slots, progresive jackpot games, scratch cards, sports betting and bingo.

LeoVegas has also been running a number of bonus offers, a VIP program and an affiliate program on the site, while adverts featured a direct download link for the LeoVegas mobile app.

Royal Panda, meanwhile, had been monitored by the KSA between August 2, 2018 and January 7, 2019. During this period, Royal Panda offered online casino games, slots, bingo, progressive jackpots, sports betting and scratch cards.

The KSA also found Royal Panda offered bonuses, a loyalty program and an affiliate program, and that it had run a number of advertising campaigns to promote its services.

LeoVegas acquired Royal Panda in November 2017 in a deal worth an initial €60m, although this could increase to €120m depending on earn-out clauses.

All forms of online gambling are currently illegal in the Netherlands, though the country will launch a regulated market in January 2021 after the Dutch Senate in February passed the Netherlands’ Remote Gambling Act.

New online gaming laws are set to 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.

However, these new licences will only be made available to operators that have had no activity in the Netherlands in the two years prior to the introduction of legislation.

Royal Panda and LeoVegas are among a number of operators to have been fined in recent months as the KSA continues to clamp down on unlicensed activity prior to new laws coming into effect.

Last month, The Stars Group was fined €400,000 for operating is PokerStars.eu site in the Netherlands, while Kindred Group's Trannel International subsidiary was also handed a fine of €470,000.

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