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€100M Seized, 6 Arrested in Dutch Illegal Gambling Investigation

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On June 16, 2021, the Public Prosecutor’s Office of the Netherlands, working in unison with the Fiscal Information and Investigation Service (FIOD), conducted raids on two homes and a business in the Netherlands as part of an anti-illegal gambling sweep. Taking place at the same time, properties within Belgium, Luxembourg, Sweden, Malta, Curacao, Austria, and Switzerland were also searched, and €100 million ($120 million) was confiscated. This came about as part of an investigation into an illegal online casino and money laundering. Six people have been arrested in relation to this.

The press release from the Public Prosecution Service, Openbaar Ministerie (OM), stated that five men, between the ages of 51 and 66, and a woman aged 45, were arrested on suspicion of violating the Gambling Act, participating in organized criminal activity, and money laundering.

The confiscations included the seizure of pieces of art, homes, jewelry, cars, boats, bank accounts, and investments.

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Netherlands Gearing up for Licensed Online Casinos

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No licenses have been granted in the Netherlands for online casinos to operate within the country for the moment. However, since the beginning of April 2021, the Remote Gambling Act of the Netherlands has been in effect, making it possible for casinos to apply for such a license.

In the first two weeks of this being made available, the Gaming Authority received a total of 29 applications. From October 1, the first legal online casinos will be able to provide their services to the Dutch market. Some international online casinos looking to serve the Dutch market will probably only be allowed to do so at a later time. This is due to the fact that they remain in a cooldown period for violating prioritization criteria.

Providing Online Casinos to Dutch Players Remains Illegal

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As things stand, offering online casino gaming sites to players based in the Netherlands is an illegal activity. Despite the new licensing legislation that is coming into effect within the country, for the time being, platforms cannot offer their services to players based within the Netherlands. This stands in stark contrast to the United States where, despite some gray area, online poker is legal as are internet casinos.

The suspects in this case chose to set up a foreign-based gambling structure and, in doing so, looked to evade the eyesight of the Dutch government. Of course, as this article proves, that idea ultimately failed for them.

The Public Prosecutor’s Office carried out the investigation into the business, and it accuses those arrested of having benefited from more than €250 million ($298 million) that they took for providing illegal games of chance. It is usually the job of the Gaming Authority to take action against such illegally operating casinos within the Netherlands, but it only has the power to impose fines on such companies, not prosecutions through the criminal justice system. However, the announcement that was made by the Public Prosecution Service doesn’t contain any mention of the Gaming Authority – Kansspelautoriteit – being involved with this investigation.

This may indicate that the Dutch authorities are becoming more serious in their efforts to combat illicit online gaming. After all, criminal charges are a more significant deterrent than mere fines. This tends to be the trend in jurisdictions that have implemented or are about to implement a licensed gambling regime because the presence of unregulated operators could have a negative impact on licensed organizations especially in terms of the tax revenue that can be collected.

Oranje Casino Fingered as Probable Business

The Public Prosecution Service has not made any disclosure about the actual casino or gambling site that is involved within this investigation. However, many believe that it is most likely Oranje Casino. The ages mentioned by the press release correspond to the ages of those known as the former owners of the business.

Oranje Casino was sold to Betsson back in 2014 alongside Kroon Casino. These casinos were rebranded by the Betsson brand back in 2019, with Kroon becoming Casino Winner and Oranje becoming Loyal Casino. The Betsson company became one of the legal operators in Sweden back in 2019 when this Scandinavian nation opened up its own gambling sector.

Because of the fact that Betsson is the owner of Oranje Casino in its current form, it remains quite unclear as to why the former owners are now being targeted. Yet, insiders with a closer eye on things claim that it could actually be in relation to the software platform Swissgame, which was operated by the same owners. As a B2B solution, Swissgame allowed other companies to start their own online casinos outside of Oranje Casino.

If this is the true explanation, the current charges would not have any connection with Betsson. It's likely that operating Swissgame is what caused the defendants to run afoul of the law.

Not the First Dutch Enforcement Action Against Online Gaming

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This raid has resulted in the confiscation of €100 million, but it is not the first time that the authorities have conducted such investigations. It was only at the beginning of 2021 that the Amsterdams Casino owners were ordered to pay €13.5 million ($16.1 million) in gambling tax. That site is a highly popular but illegal casino, which targets Dutch players, and it remains active in a case against the Dutch government.

In May, one house in Velsen and another in Spain were the victims of raids by the authorities. It was thanks to these raids that a 56-year-old was arrested on suspicion of operating an illegal online casino. At the moment, it is not known whether the raid was related to the one undertaken in June.

Various companies have been blocked, fined, or pulled out of the Dutch market in recent years due to the changes in its legislation.

This is certainly the case where Winamax is concerned, which left the Dutch market in 2018. Meanwhile, PokerStars was handed a fine of €400,000 ($476,000) by the Dutch regulators toward the end of 2019.

Online Gaming Sites Remain Active for Dutch Players

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Despite the fact that the Netherlands has such strict rules surrounding online gambling at the moment, there are various sites that still provide their services to the country. Therefore, if you would like to wager online before the first locally licensed sites emerge, you can do so.

Multiple international sites can be recommended for you to join in order to play at if you are based within the country. One of them is Sportsbetting.ag, which not only hosts hundreds of casino games but also has a poker room and sportsbook attached. For more information about this solid operator, check out this detailed Sportsbetting.ag review.

If you reside elsewhere in the world, then you can consult these country-specific guides for additional information: