Netherlands authorities intensify efforts to combat illicit poker gatherings. Lithuania imposes a penalty on Baltic Bet for their gambling promotion. In parallel, the German court reaffirms the legitimacy of GGL's more stringent advertising regulations. FATF raises concern as Gibraltar's timelines are declared "expired". And engaging in dialogue proves more effective than monetary penalties to ensure advertising compliance in Holland.

Netherlands police crackdown on illegal poker gathering

In a joint operation with the country's gambling regulatory body, de Kansspelautoriteit (KSA), Dutch law enforcement swooped in on an illicit poker gathering held in the quaint town of Waddinxveen.

Acting on credible information, the KSA revealed that the illicit poker event was on the verge of commencing. Upon entering the premises, the police uncovered the tournament, with numerous participants engrossed in the game. Subsequent to the operation, the police successfully traced the masterminds behind the tournament, who are now considered suspects pending a comprehensive investigation.

Authorities reported seizing the tournament's stakes, totaling several thousand euros, along with the poker tables utilized during the gathering. Moreover, the police confirmed that they have interviewed all participants in the competition, while further investigations remain underway.

Baltic Bet’s gambling promotion draws fine in Lithuania

Lithuania's regulator recently took action against Baltic Bet, slapping them with a fine of €16,705. The reason behind this hefty penalty was due to Baltic Bet's improper promotion of gambling activities to consumers. The investigation revealed that the company had posted content on its website that seemed to encourage people to gamble, which was a clear violation of the country’s Law on Gambling.

But that's not all. The regulator expressed apprehension regarding the utilization of specific terms by Baltic Bet to endorse its Optibet label on Google. By combining the terms "Optibet casino" and "Optibet live betting," they managed to draw more attention to their platform, yet this strategy ran afoul of the same law mentioned earlier. The gambling watchdog isn't letting this slide easily; it issued a stern warning to Baltic Bet and made it clear that further action could be taken if they repeated such offenses. To address these issues, the operator has until 7 July to comply with the measures imposed.

Baltic Bet does have the possibility to appeal the verdict, but it remains to be seen how this case will unfold. The message is loud and clear: playing fast and loose with gambling promotion rules will not be tolerated in Lithuania.

German court upholds legality of GGL's stricter advertising restrictions

The Higher Administrative Court of Saxony-Anhalt has issued a verdict upholding the jurisdiction of the German watchdog, Glücksspielbehörde der Länder (GGL), in imposing limitations on advertising. When granting permits to online gambling operators, the GGL included provisions that imposed limitations on their advertising activities. These provisions faced opposition from gaming businesses, who sought to have them suspended by the administrative court of Halle. 

However, the Saxony-Anhalt court, responding to a petition from the GGL, has overturned the previous ruling and deemed the majority of the contested provisions legally sound after a preliminary review. Notably, the court has sanctioned prohibitions on infomercials, streamer-based affiliate advertising, and partnerships that promote unlicensed websites. The court emphasized that these regulations are crucial for achieving the goals digested in the State Treaty on Gambling, such as preventing addiction and safeguarding minors. 

The GGL has also reached success in battling illegal gambling, further justifying the necessity of these measures. In line with the State Treaty on Gambling 2021, public money-wagering without a license is prohibited and can be restricted. The court stressed that this reservation of permission is compatible with European law, as it serves the legitimate goals of protecting young players and fighting against crime under EU legislation.

FATF alert: Gibraltar's timelines deemed "expired"

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a transnational body combating money laundering, has urged Gibraltar to swiftly address its strategic shortcomings, stating that "all designated deadlines have now lapsed."

Within its oversight, the FATF maintains a roster of jurisdictions under heightened scrutiny, informally referred to as the "gray list." Since being included in the body’s June 2022 plenary session, alongside Malta's removal, Gibraltar has undertaken various measures to bolster the efficacy of its counter-terrorist financing and AML framework.

Consequently, an action plan was devised by the FATF for Gibraltar, granting a completion deadline set for May 2023. At the time, the FATF attributed its decision partly to Gibraltar's prominence as a significant gambling hub, specifically criticizing the government's inadequacy in "imposing substantial penalties for AML deficiencies."

Talks may work better than fines for ad ban compliance in Holland

Dutch minister Franc Weerwind proposes that initiating dialogues with gaming operators may prove more efficacious in ensuring compliance with the forthcoming ad ban on July 1, rather than relying solely on imposing fines. Some politicians question the approach of the chairman of the country’s supervisory body, René Jansen, who has stated that enforcement actions will not be immediately taken at the start of the ban. 

Members of the House of Representatives have raised concerns about the iGaming vertical in the Netherlands. They proposed that the regulator, Kansspelautoriteit (KSA), establish a consistent standard by issuing fines for every violation. Weerwind responded by stating that invisible measures like norm-setting dialogues can often be more useful than fines, although violations can still be punished with fines. 

The KSA will determine the appropriate intervention based on the severity of the violations. Weerwind supported the KSA's working practices, citing the effectiveness of norm-setting discussions before enforcement actions.

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