Following the recent commencement of operator registrations on June 5th, when can we expect next steps?
Legal online gaming was approved in the Netherlands on February 2019, when the Senate passed the Remote Gaming Act. The legislation was first introduced in 2014 and can now be passed into law through a Royal Decree.
Kansspelautoriteit (KSA), the Netherlands gambling regulatory body, opened its operator registration process on June 5th, the first step towards establishing the Remote Gambling Act. Chairman of the KSA, Rene Jansen, maintains that the new act will be officially sanctioned by summer 2020, which means the Dutch gambling market will open by January 1, 2021. However, the KSA has emphasized that this timeline is in no way final and may change.
At the Gaming in Holland Conference in Amsterdam on June 2019, the KSA shared more details on the implementation of the Remote Gaming Act. The KSA confirmed that the licensing fees for operators would be set at 45,000 euros. They also revealed that 183 parties had completed their updated interest form. One-third of those interested parties are experienced online operators, often licensed overseas, such as an online casino for Canadians. The rest of the interested parties consists of small companies and independents. The KSA reported that approximately 90 licenses will be granted.
The opening of the Dutch casino market is also important for lawful online gambling and the fight against fraud and gambling addiction. There is a great need for clear online gambling regulations, especially after the Netherlands Gambling Authority imposed seven fines for a total of 1.7 million euros. The KSA has a history of imposing hefty fines on online betting sites that break the rules of the gambling restrictions and offer betting to Dutch citizens.
As part of its commitment to cracking down on illegal operators hoping to target citizens in the Netherlands, the KSA has increased the size of its fines. The KSA hopes the larger fines will discourage illegal offshore operators. On March 1st, 2019, the smallest fine was increased to 200,000 euros from 150,000 euros. They also implemented an escalation system for operators who refuse to cooperate, while there will reportedly be some “leniency” for operators who cooperate with the KSA.
The Netherlands Gambling Authority also announced back in April 2017 that they were targeting online advertisements for “online games of chance.” The KSA launched their operation after 17 websites were found to be advertising online gambling operators, even those who had previously been fined by the Netherlands Gambling Authority.
Most of the websites pinpointed in the investigation removed the advertising before having to pay the penalty. However, at least one website was slapped with an order subject to periodic penalty payments to make sure its advertising stopped. The Netherlands Gambling Authority has since claimed that its operation and subsequent actions have virtually eliminated advertising for online gambling websites both on TV and in printed media.