Virtual Coin Gaming NV, a Curacao-based firm that operates the FutGalaxy and FutGamer gambling websites, has been issued a Dutch Gambling Regulators fine amounting to €500,000. A separate fine of €100,000 has been issued to an unnamed employee of the company.
Kansspelautoriteit (KSA), the gambling regulatory body in the Netherlands issued the penalties after they found the operator to have flouted Dutch law by offering illegal games of chance to Dutch citizens via the aforementioned websites.
The Reasons Behind the Dutch Gambling Regulators Fine
The KSA established that the unlicensed websites in question were directly targeting Dutch citizens via games of chance, which is against Dutch law. Offering games themed around a popular yet banned in the Netherlands console game, the websites accepted Dutch players without permission. The console game in question is “Fifa Ultimate Team”, a game that is banned in the Netherlands as it sells ‘loot boxes’ to players. Under a new 2019 law, the Netherlands classes loot boxes as gambling and, as such, are banned in the country.
Loot boxes reward players with digital items, in this case footballers, and can be bought with in-game currency which can be bought with actual money. They give players a slight chance of winning the best players, which encourages them to keep buying more boxes.
The KSA claims that the targeting of Dutch players was obvious and intended. Both websites are sat on .nl domains, offer Dutch-language services and accept the Dutch payment processor iDEAL.
The Netherlands Long-Standing Issues with Curacao-Based Sites
Not the first to be issued a Dutch gambling regulator’s fine, Virtual Coin Gaming NV joins a long list of Curacao-based gambling sites that have faced the wrath of the KSA. Bluemay Enterprises NV and Bluemay Enterprises who operate 7Red Casino and RoyaalCasino were fined for similar reasons. That fine was small in comparison at €180,000 but this just shows renewed focus by the KSA to place strict penalties on those that flout the law.
It remains to be seen if that renewed focus is related to a recent agreement between the Netherlands and Curacao that should see the latter rein in the online casinos and betting sites under their authority.
Curacao had their hands forced because of needing financial help from the Netherlands due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The Netherlands has been providing financial support to the ancillary island, but when asked for more, they this time added conditions. With tourism on hold, Curacao is struggling, but despite that, they originally refused to accept some of those conditions.
An agreement was eventually met with Curacao agreeing to all stipulations (including the regulatory reform of their online gambling supervision) in return for the third tranche of monetary support, which is thought to be close to 150 million euros.
Regulatory Reforms Can Only Be a Good Thing
A clean up of the Curacao licensing process is good news for the iGaming industry. Currently, just four companies have licenses to offer online gambling, but it permits them to offer a white-label casino platform to thousands of other companies. This has led to a flood of poorly regulated online casinos and betting sites flouting laws of other countries including the Netherlands.
The government of Curacao previously often turned a blind eye to what their licensees were doing, despite many complaints of soliciting players from countries where online gambling is illegal.
Thankfully, it would seem that when it comes to licensing for online casinos, Curacao is bent over a barrel which is significant news for those that like to gamble online. It could mean more player support and better regulatory actions from Curacao Antillephone N.V licensing, which was established in 1996 to allow remote gambling sites to hold a legitimate license. Even though most online casinos and live casinos using this license operate with integrity, there are some that are giving the licensing authority a bad name while the Curacao government does not seem to fine or ban these casinos.