Dutch Government Sends Gambling Market Legislation for EU Approval
This week, regulators in the Netherlands finished the final draft of the framework of their legalized online gambling market. Shortly afterwards, they sent their new Remote Gambling Act off to the European Commission to see if it meets the European Union’s laws.
Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that has caused death and disruption all over the world, the Dutch government has maintained that its regulated gambling market would be ready to launch by its self-imposed July 2021 deadline.
Interesting clauses in the bill include a ban on operators using daytime advertising on TV and radio within the country, a “wipe” of all Dutch players’ data from foreign operators seeking a new licence, and a provision that licensees must have problem gambling prevention systems in place.
A Few Months
This bill was originally passed in November 2019. However, it took a long time to filter through every stage of the legislature. The extra attention oversight has already seen the launch delayed by six months from its original date.
The Dutch gambling regulator, Kansspelautoriteit (KSA), is legendarily strict with its rules and implementation, so the proposals have been extremely detailed, and licence applicants have been thoroughly vetted.
KSA applied nearly $3.5 million in fines in 2019—a record year for any EU country. These were mostly imposed on foreign operators who had been supplying Dutch customers legally under EU law but not in the eyes of the Dutch.
Many big names were on the list of fines, such as Leo Vegas, Betsson AB, Unibet, and 1xBet.
Despite operators in some other countries challenging fines and avoiding paying up, those hoping for a Dutch licence next year have been quick to settle their debts.
Justice Minister Sander Dekker is the man currently in charge of formulating the new market. He told Parliament last month that the coronavirus pandemic should only delay the opening of the market by “a few months” and that July was still considered the ballpark date.
Mr. Dekker also told Dutch MPs that the KSA would be given more power to clamp down on illegal operators, both now and after the market launches. These “direct powers,” as he called them, could include the ability to permanently block certain payment methods for Dutch IP addresses and blanket blocks on ISPs serving illegal gambling operators.
This ties up with another aspect of the new law.
The clause in question states that servers holding information on Dutch customers must be located in a place accessible to authorities. This means either in the Netherlands itself, in another EU country, or directly near the operator’s registered head offices—if outside of the EU.
All of this adds up to create a picture of the Netherlands’ new gambling market. It will be highly regulated with plenty of state intrusion and oversight.
However, as the market was reported to be worth over $2 billion a year already, we can’t see many operators being too put off—especially with competing markets like the UK taking a bit of a nosedive in popularity with operators in recent months.