On Friday, Malta-based Betsson publicly announced that the company would refuse to abide by the recent changes in the Netherlands Gaming Authority’s enforcement policy that would, among other things, see the regulator target operators that employ typically Dutch brand names or visual elements:

Betsson purchased the brands Kroon and Orange when [the 2012 prioritisation] criteria were in place with legitimate expectations that such brands did not infringe the prioritisation criteria and the fact that the new framework was imminent. However, while the law is still not forthcoming, the goalposts (prioritisation criteria) have further been changed without any legal basis.

The recent change in policy (which happened overnight) had the effect of making a legitimate EU operator in line with the 2012 prioritisation criteria, at risk of enforcement from the KSA. As a gesture of goodwill, we will continue to operate in accordance with the criteria as was put in place in 2012 but we will not change operations further as the change in policy has no legal basis.

Enforcement by the KSA is against central EU legal principles. Betsson Group will take all action necessary to defend any attempt of enforcement. We draw your attention to the recent ruling of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) (see: http://www.egba.eu/online-gambling-court-rejects-non-transparent-licensing-regimes-and-prohibits-enforcement-measures/) which provides that where a national regulation is in violation of EU law, a Member State is precluded from sanctioning an operator holding an EU licence.

Ulrik Bengtsson, ‎President and CEO of the Betsson Group, further commented:

The current law in the Netherlands is not in line with EU law. We have now spent five years in a state of uncertainty in the Netherlands, while being promised a new EU-compliant law that will open the market. During this time, the Netherlands Gaming Authority (KSA) has been using the “carrot” of the possibility of receiving a license to convince European operators to comply with their changing prioritization criteria.

It is now clear that the KSA no longer have any regard for the channelization of customers into a regulated Dutch environment, as was the original objective. This indicates that the KSA – like us – is actually in doubt whether the regulated environment will be implemented at all.

We at Betsson wish to work in locally regulated markets, where we can operate within a secure environment that provides certainty for our consumers. Understandably, we are frustrated with the confusing environment the KSA is at present creating for the Dutch consumer. Given the political landscape in the Netherlands, we now believe that no fair and transparent regulation enabling local licences will be in place until after the next election.

Betsson will continue its business as usual, in accordance with the original prioritization criteria and provide Dutch customers the best customer experience in a safe and regulated environment.

Last week, Betsson also announced the creation of the position of Vice President Governance, Risk and Compliance to oversee the firm’s regulatory risks and opportunities. The company appointed Fredric Lundén, an Associate Judge at Svea Court of Appeal, to the position.

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