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LeoVegas and Royal Panda fined by Dutch regulator

Dutch gambling regulator Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) has handed fines to LeoVegas and its Royal Panda brand for offering online games of chance in the Netherlands without a gaming license.

The KSA emphasised that “online gambling is currently prohibited”, and subsequently handed Royal Panda a €400,000 while its parent company LeoVegas was issued with a fine of €350,000.

Despite the Dutch government passing a bill which authorizes international online gambling companies to provide their services on the territory of the Netherlands, the nation’s new gambling regime is still at least a year away from being implemented. This means that the Kansspelautoriteit has at least a year to punish companies taking advantage of the current loopholes in the Dutch gambling law and targeting local gamblers.

KSA said that LeoVegas and the Royal Panda brand had targeted players in the Netherlands during the second half of last year and the early stages of 2019, despite not having the necessary permissions to operate in the country. Both had been running websites that were accessible with a Dutch IP address, while customers could use iDEAL, a payment method native to the Netherlands, on both sites.

Both businesses are owned by Malta-headquartered and Sweden-listed online gambling group LeoVegas. The company has been operating its flagship LeoVegas brand since its inception in 2011 and purchased the Royal Panda brand in 2017 in a deal worth an initial €60m, although it could increase to €120m depending on earn-out clauses.

All forms of online gambling are currently illegal in the Netherlands, though the country will launch a regulated market in January 2021 after the Dutch Senate in February passed the Netherlands’ Remote Gambling Act.

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