The Netherlands has been quite divided over gambling. The laws of the country haven’t been changed for years and a newly-proposed liberalization of the market is leading to some interesting outcomes, including a suggestion to ban operators that acted out of the legal scope of the country before the industry had been formalized.
Of Judges and Legislation – Dutch Gambling and Sheriff Gaming
It’s difficult to operate in the Netherlands. The former CEO of Sheriff Gaming, a now shut-down slot developer, has been indicted in money laundering schemes and tax evasion. Stijn Flapper, Sheriff Gaming highest ranking executive had to appear in court on Thursday, along with his colleagues and brothers Maurice and Michel Gregoire.
The court in Den Bosch has been quite unapologetic in their demands for justice. Prosecutors demanded hash terms for Flapper and the siblings who have been allegedly assisted the tax fraud scheme taking place as part of Sheriff Gaming.
The events leading up to the Thursday’s calls for imprisonment date back to 2013, when an investigation took aim at the aforementioned individuals who were since found guilty of running €100 million worth of illegal gambling activities. Flapper was taken for a police interview at the time, perhaps aware of the oncoming legislative trouble he would get in.
The money was spread across multiply bank accounts and countries, and it eventually served as evidence for the case that just started in September. Flapper has repeatedly said that he and the Gregoire brothers have not done anything that doesn’t comply with the legislation.
He reciprocated the measures undertaken by the tax office by filing his own lawsuit against the Netherlands estimated at €75 million.
The Flapper Affair
As per the prosecutors-cited evidence, Flapper has been using seven Costa Rica gambling sites to launder money flowing in from a variety of activities, including online gambling, but also – and more shockingly so – drug trafficking. The accusations against Flapper have continued to pile on month after month with prosecutors demanding for the harshest terms of sentencing possible.
While Flapper faces up to four years in prison, the brothers may be sentenced between 30 and 36 months. Prosecutors are also seeking to claim back strong>€13.6 million in back-dated due taxes. Meanwhile, some of the assets of the involved have been seized and sold off to cover part of what is owed.
While the Netherlands definitely come across as one of the sternest jurisdictions to run a gambling business in, Flapper was also accused of intentionally making sure not to pay out large jackpots, as attested by a software engineer who worked at Sheriff Gaming at the time. It was due to inherent tinkering with the code of the games that barred them from every paying out the advertised amounts.
Sheriff was owned by Bubble Group NV. Following the raids, Flapper’s brother tried to restore the website under a new brand, Blue Gem Gaming, but Dutch authorities were quick to cotton on this and snuffed out any hopes that the pair could continue to run their activities until such a time that a final verdict is reached.
The Dutch authorities have been acting methodically, even though it has taken them a while to build their case against Flapper. And even if some criticize how the Netherlands regulate certain gambling products, the country’s authorities have proven the bastion that protects consumers from venal parties.
Meanwhile, 15 more people are standing trial for their alleged involvement and because of having chosen to assist the scheme.