The Netherlands Gambling Authority (KSA) has imposed a fine of €6,794,000 against GoldWin Limited for illegally offering online gambling to Dutch consumers without a local licence, alongside a smaller fine for a formerly Malta-based company.
The fine amount was determined on the basis of a percentage of the estimated turnover of more than €97m for GoldWin Limited from Dutch players, who visited the website 843,132 times, according to a decision dated October 10 and published on the KSA's website on Monday (October 30).
GoldWin received an initial warning from the KSA to stop targeting Dutch consumers in January 2023, which the operator did not respond to, according to the regulator.
The warning followed an investigation into the operator that revealed Dutch players could gamble on the GoldWin-operated westcasino.com website, despite not having a Dutch licence.
There were also no technical measures to prevent Dutch players from signing up, such as IP blocking measures.
On April 20, 2023, GoldWin was handed an official order subject to penalty, which required it to immediately stop its online offering in the country. The company faced a penalty of €239,000 per week, up to a maximum of €717,000. The operator subsequently did begin blocking Dutch players, according to the regulator.
On July 10, 2023, the KSA finished an administrative report into GoldWin determining it had previously violated the law, despite adhering to the cease and desist order. GoldWin did not use its chance to respond to these KSA claims by August 8, 2023.
René Jansen, retiring chairman of the KSA, said: “We can often quickly put a stop to illegal supply with an order subject to a penalty. This does not mean that previously committed illegal activities disappear from view: they can still be punished.”
An appeal can be lodged against the KSA's decision. GoldWin did not respond to a request for comment from Vixio before time of publication.
Separately, the KSA also handed out a €900,000 fine to Malta-based operator MKC Limited for illegally offering online gambling to Dutch players.
The KSA similarly found Dutch players were able to set up accounts and gamble with local addresses. Additionally, “no technical measures had been taken to prevent participants from the Netherlands”, such as the use of IP blocking, according to a press release on October 30.
Jansen, said: “At MKC Limited, players could enter an age themselves without clear identification. This means that their website is also accessible to very vulnerable, underage players. This is a seriously culpable offense, which we have also included as an increasing factor for the fine. It shows once again that in many cases little attention seems to be paid to the safety of players on the illegal market."
The KSA estimated that the turnover generated from the Netherlands by MKC was more than €2.4m in its fine decision dated October 10.
An investigation by the KSA that discovered the violations on MKC’s betworld247.com website was initially launched on May 24, 2022, and concluded on June 9, 2022.
On August 23, 2022, the KSA sent an order subject to a penalty to MKC, demanding it cease and desist from offering online gambling without a licence.
In October 2022, the website was investigated again and it was announced that it was no longer accessible from the Netherlands. MKC had faced a fine of up to €84,000 if it did not comply with the order.
An additional report into MKC was created on June 22, 2023, which determined it had violated the country’s gambling laws by offering its services without a licence.
In a letter on June 27, 2023, the operator was given the chance to respond to the report's findings in both a letter and a hearing; however, it did not respond by the August 2, 2023 deadline. It can appeal against the fine.
On June 20, 2023, the Malta Gaming Authority announced that it had cancelled the authorisation it had previously awarded to MKC for breaching a series of compliance and enforcement regulations, such as not discharging financial commitments for its operations and failing to “meet commitments to players in a timely manner”.
Additional reporting by Joe Ewens.