Netherlands Gambling Authority imposes penalty payments on EA over loot boxes

A ruling by the District Court in The Hague that loot boxes in the popular FIFA video game constitute a form of unlicensed gambling has given the green light to the Netherlands Gambling Authority (KSA) to impose an order subject to penalty paymentsof up to €5m against FIFA’s publisher EA.

Apart from ruling that FIFA’s loot boxes constitute a form of unlicensed gambling, the Court also found that FIFA’s publisher would face no insurmountable difficulties in complying with the Dutch regulator’s order.

KSA chairmen René Jansen: “The KSA believes it is crucial to shield vulnerable groups, such as minors, from exposure to gambling. For that reason, the KSA supports a strict separation between gaming and gambling. Gamers are often young and therefore particularly susceptible to developing an addiction. As such, gambling elements have no place in games.”

EA has already declared its intention to appeal the ruling, saying “we do not believe that our products and services violate gambling laws in any way.”

VAN chairman Frits Huffnagel steps down

After seven years, Frits Huffnagel has decided to step down from November 1 as chairman of trade association VAN Kansspelen. The imminent implementation of the Remote Gaming Act means that his “most important task” has now been concluded, Huffnagel said. He also cited a desire to focus more on his communications agency as a reason to step down.

Huffnagel will be replaced on an interim basis by vice chairman Aad Kobus, as the board launches a search for a new chairman.

In the coming weeks, we will be publishing an exclusive interview with Frits Huffnagel in which he looks back at his time as chairman of VAN Kansspelen. Stay tuned for more!

Dutch casinos and gambling arcades ordered to close for two weeks

Starting today at 22:00, all land-based gambling venues in the Netherlands will close for two weeks due to a resurgence in Covid-19 infections.

The new restrictions are currently slated to end automatically on November 19, after which the situation will revert to the partial lockdown that was in place until today.

GiH Webinar | Creating a compliant infrastructure: Tech requirements for remote gaming in the Netherlands

Don’t forget to register for the Gaming in Holland webinar “Creating a compliant infrastructure: Tech requirements for remote gaming in the Netherlands” on Wednesday, December 2, 14:00 CET.

Confirmed speakers include Frank Tolboom, representing the Netherlands’ leading gaming law firm Kalff Katz & Franssen, and Martin Prantner, CEO of Finnplay, an independent iGaming platform technology and services provider.

Don’t miss it! Click here to register: https://bit.ly/3e2EE0B

Upcoming events

Events

  • Betting on Sports America, the largest dedicated sports betting trade show in the world, returns as a virtual event from 1 – 3 December.
  • The World Gaming Executive Summit will return as a virtual event from 7 – 9 December. Key themes on the agenda include AI, the future of land–based gaming, CSR, sustainable marketing, regulation updates, fantasy sports, and emerging marketing opportunities.
  • SiGMA Europe has moved its November event to 16 – 18 February, 2021.
  • ICE London 2021 will now take place 29 June – July 1, 2021, with the co-located iGB Affiliate London taking place 1 – 2 July.
  • iGB Live 2021 has also been moved to 28 September – 1 October, 2021, but will still take place in Amsterdam!

Webinars

  • Join the iGaming Next Power Hour every Friday @3pm CET for a short, compact, educational and social weekly digital gathering with some of the brightest and most connected minds of the industry.
  • From November 9, the Totally Gaming Academy and instructor Arjan Korstjens will offer the remote course “Casino Marketing for the Next 18 Months.”
  • Tune in for the International Masters of Gaming Law (IMGL) panel “Diversity and Inclusion in the Gambling Sector,” with Marie Antonette Quiogue, Muskan Sethi, Christina Thakor-Rankin, and Birgitte Sand, on November 11.

Netherlands Gambling Authority publishes draft license application rules

The Netherlands Gambling Authority has published its draft rules for evaluating remote license applications.

The draft rules contain extensive provisions for evaluating the reliability of license applicants.

Most relevant for existing online operators is the article (3.8) dealing with applications by operators who have offered their services to Dutch consumers in the past.

The article notes that the simple fact of having offered online gambling services in the past to Dutch customers is insufficient grounds for denying the license application, provided that the operator:

  • has implemented effective and visible age verification measures from December 31, 2019; and
  • has not actively targeted Dutch consumers in the 32 months prior to the license application, e.g., by offering its services on a .nl website or (partially) in the Dutch language; advertised in Dutch broadcast or print media; made use of a domain name or visual symbols combining “typically Dutch concepts” with gambling-related indicators; or offered payment methods that are used in the majority by Dutch consumers (i.e. iDEAL).

It should further be noted that this article only applies to license applications submitted before March 1, 2022.

Other news

Nederlandse Loterij has agreed to become the second main sponsor of the Royal Dutch Skating Association (KNSB).

Kindred Group has acquired Belgium’s Casino Blankeberge from The Rank Group Plc. Previously, Kindred has had a long-term commercial partnership with Casino Blankeberge that allowed the former to offer online casino, live casino and poker to Belgian customers under the Unibet brand.

Belgium’s government has announced that the country will again enter a nationwide lockdown, with all gambling and betting venues to remain closed until at least the middle of December.

Spain’s Council of Ministers has approved the formal passing of the “Royal Decree on Advertising,” introducing draconian restrictions on online gambling advertising.

32Red will exit the Italian online gambling market from 30 November, parent company Kindred Group has confirmed. The Group will focus on its Unibet brand instead.

Mindway AI’s Gamalyze self-test has won the “Compliance Innovation of the Year” at the VIXIO GamblingCompliance Global Regulatory Awards 2020.

GVC Holdings has suggested that coronavirus lockdowns across Europe could cost the company £43m ($55.3m).

Former Malta Gaming Authority chairman and current CEO of the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA), Joseph Cuschierihas suspended himself from the authority over a 2018 Las Vegas trip paid for by murder suspect Yorgen Fenech.

Meanwhile, current Malta Gaming Authority CEO Heathcliff Farrugia and chief regulatory officer Karl Brincat Peplow have both resigned from the Maltese regulator.

International Game Technology (IGT) subsidiary Lottomatica has suspended four employees for allegedly attempting to gain unauthorized access to the business’ systems in order to find and buy winning scratch cards.

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