Apple removes Real Money Gambling Apps from Dutch App Store
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Real money gambling over the internet, via desktop or mobile, is a highly controversial subject mong global governments. In some regions it’s legal, others its prohibited, and for the rest, it tends to fall into a gray area of the law. The Netherlands falls into the second category, and has made its legal stance clear to the makers of Apple smartphones and tablets.
Back in May 2016, the nation’s gambling regulator, Kansspelautoriteit (KSA), sent an official request to Apple, Inc. asking that real money gambling apps be removed from the service’s Dutch-facing App Store.
The request was more of a demand, really, as the regulator crisply reminded Apple that online wagering is still illegal in the Netherlands. Although the government is currently working on a draft bill to legalize internet casinos, the KAS was adamant that, until the Remote Gambling Act is passed, and licenses awarded to individual operators, the App Store’s provision of real money gambling applications could be interpreted as a direct violation of current law.
Apple Removes Real Money Gambling Apps
It took the tech giant – the renowned maker of Mac, MacBook, iPhone, iPad and other popular computer products – several months to fully comply with the request, but a recent publication on the Dutch regulator’s website confirmed that Apple has finally obliged.
KAS stated that “one” company (no doubt referring to Apple) successfully removed 55 real money gambling apps from its Dutch-accessible App Store, including those from major iGaming operators like Bwin and Unibet. Note that Google Play did not receive a similar request, as that company did not offer these betting apps to Dutch customers in the first place.
“One of the app stores heeded the request of the Gaming Authority and deleted initially 49 and later six so-called real-money gambling apps,” read the announcement on the KSA website.
The regulator maintains that Bwin, Unibet and other betting operators of their nature may not lawfully provide their services to anyone physically located in the Netherlands. Therefore providing their mobile apps to Dutch customers is also a violation of the law.
Higher Fines Convince Operators, App Stores To Comply
Assisting companies like Apple to comply with that law was a move by the Dutch government in 2015 to triple the penalty for illegal online gambling from €50,000 to €150,000. In the past three years, at least iGaming operators have been fined by the KSA, with some operators being slapped with as much as €200,000 in individual fines.
According to reports, only three of the penalties were actually collected. Other operators were apparently able to avoid the fines by ceasing acceptance of Dutch players and confirming their intent to apply for a Dutch license once remote gambling becomes legal.
Two iGaming operators in particular became aggressively targeted victims of the KSA’s wrath. Total E Soft Ltd. and XKL Ltd., both based in the UK, were hit with a combined total of €180,000 in fines after being charged with providing illegal online gambling services to Dutch players via 14 different online poker, casino and sports betting sites. The KSA compiled strong evidence against them, as the websites were written in Dutch and boasted the Netherlands flag within their graphical layouts.
Remote Gambling Act Coming in 2017?
The government has been working long to pass a Remote Gambling Act, and is expected to finish the job sometime next year. The draft legislation is currently working its way through Parliament’s upper house, and will finally give private companies a chance to proffer licensed, real money gambling apps and websites within the country, eliminating the existing monopoly.
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