Van Raak: public company UTS central in online gambling industry
THE HAGUE, WILLEMSTAD - Government company, United Telecommunication Services (UTS) is the spider in the web of illegal online casinos. This is according to Ronald van Raak of the Socialist Party in the Netherlands. The Member of Parliament has asked 40 written questions to the Dutch Ministers of the Interior and Kingdom Relations and Security and Justice on the large-scale illegal gambling activities from Curaçao.
Many of those casinos focuses, according to the MP, on the Dutch market. Casinos such as Bit Casino, Mark Bell Casino and Zon Casino operate from the premises of UTS on Vredenberg. The last two casinos took action after Van Raak had previously asked parliamentary questions. Bell Mark even went completely offline.
According to Van Raak online gambling from Curaçao goes back as early as 1998, and the government company UTS plays a central role. In 2007, UTS became a member of the Curaçao Interactive Gaming Association (CIGA), which is responsible for the issuance of so-called master licenses. This is done under the supervision of the Ministry of Justice. UTS supplies not only office and mailing address, but also network and telecommunications infrastructure to gambling companies.
But according to the MP, UTS is even deeper into the online gambling industry. Subsidiaries offer E-powerhouse (IDG) and Ctex e-zone facilities and a private data center. The master licensee / ISP CyberLuck provides next to the necessary licensing options also compliance services, bank account numbers, payment and software for online gaming, Van Raak writes.
This means that the government of Curaçao, through its company UTS and via the illegal SMS lotteries and partly illegal online casinos, is supporting the gambling industry on the island. Additionally, according to Van Raak, the Gaming Control Board still exercises no control over the online gambling. Partly because of lack of legislation. Noteworthy is that Nelson Navarro, the current Minister of Justice has once again extended the master licenses of the four master licensees in recent years. Doing this without arranging adequate legislation and supervision, Van Raak said in his letter to the Dutch Ministers.
UTS offers, according to the MP, SMS lotteries illegally. Supervising entity, the Bureau of Telecommunications and Post (BTP), has never held the telecommunication company accountable for this illegal SMS activity. Van Raak believes that KPMG plays an important role. In 2006, this relationship was strengthened by the appointment of an ex-KPMG as CEO of UTS.
Van Raak believes that it is strange that UTS’ annual reports are secret. Their own Supervisory Board does not have access to the individual financial statements of the parent and subsidiary companies. The same Board has still not approved the statements of UTS since 2011. The Government Accountant Bureau (SOAB), according to the MP, has no access to the statutory financial statements of the parent and subsidiary companies.
Van Raak also believes that the yearly earnings of the Curaçao gambling sector amounts to 1.4 to 3 billion guilders.
By Dick Drayer (Persbureau)