Online gaming company Betsson has lost an appeal of a Dutch law prohibiting the publication of text advertising gambling goods.
On Wednesday, the Council of State, the highest administrative court in the Netherlands, agreed with the regulatory body Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) that online publications promoting gambling goods come under the country’s prohibition on advertising illegal games of chance.
The Council’s decision came in response to a KSA appeal issuing a cease-and-desist order for 2015 subject to a financial penalty against Content Publishing Ltd (CPL), a marketing subsidiary of Nordic online gambling operator Betsson AB based in Malta.
The KSA found the promotion of Betsson sites by CPL via text containing hyperlinks to Betsson sites – as well as running web banner ads – to constitute illegal advertisement under Dutch gambling laws.
CPL protested, arguing that the papers in question were ‘editorial information.’ CPL further claimed that Netherlands legislation on this score were too ambiguous for the company to be held responsible for breaching any boundaries.
A court in the Hague sided with the KSA in February 2019, finding that the “primary objective” of the papers in question was “to forward potential players to online casino game providers.”
CPL appealed the decision but the State Council has now upheld the judgement of the Hague court. The Council rubbed CPL’s claims that Dutch laws were vague, saying that the illegality of CPL’s activities was “accurate, clear, and unambiguous.”
The Council somewhat dryly noted that CPL is a proper business and therefore “must be deemed to know the law.” CPL voiced a number of other arguments, including that the KSA could only act against a promoter of gambling products if the provider of gambling is a gambler.
None of these concerns prevailed with the Council, which eventually came to the conclusion that the KSA had completely operated within its specified policies.
Corona, another Malta-based Betsson subsidiary that runs the Dutch-facing Oranje and Kroon online casino brands on Betsson, was fined € 300k in 2018 for taking bets from Dutch punters without KSA permission.
The following year, Betsson rebranded the two sites probably as an exercise in reputational improvement ahead of the Netherlands in preparation for the launch of its regulated online gambling industry.