Netherlands Online Gambling Licenses Issuance in 2020 Likely

Dutch flag on a boat

30-second summary:

  • The Netherlands Senate finally gave the green light to the Remote Gaming Act
  • This will allow online gambling in the country, beginning in 2021
  • There will be a large emphasis on minimizing any potential negative consequences of this move

Passing of the Remote Gaming Act

After many years of stagnation, the Remote Gaming Act in the Netherlands was finally approved by the legislature in February 2019.

The Senate is the upper house in the parliament for the Netherlands. It was third time lucky for the bill following a Senate vote on February 19 on the issue. There had been a number of back and forth discussions in advance of the vote as politicians wanted to clarify key points of the bill. The Dutch  gambling sector will now undergo a significant transformation.

The origins of the bill date back to 2016, when the lower house in the parliament gave its approval. Three years on, online gambling companies can now apply for licenses. Since online gambling first became prominent, people in the Netherlands have been the target of illegal operations.

Sander Dekker, the justice minister who was one of the key people leading the charge on the issue, spoke of his relief. He said: “We see that society is digitizing and more than half a million Dutch people are participating unprotected in online gambling at the moment. This involves big risks such as gambling addiction and fraud. I am happy that we can now offer players a secure offer so that games of chance can be played online in a responsible manner.”

What does the bill look like?

The first debate about online gambling in the Dutch parliament was in 2010. The Remote Gaming Act’s introduction came in 2016, taking on board a number of key components of the debates. It swiftly gained significant support and was passed comprehensively by the lower house following a vote.

A 29% tax rate will be in place for gambling revenues, both offline and online. There will be a further tax of 1.5%, which will go towards the running costs the regulatory authority – the Kansspelautoriteit (KSA). Another 0.5% tax will go towards the prevention and treatment of gambling addiction.

One of the big debates revolved around the idea of allowing the KSA to block the IP addresses of residents in the Netherlands who were looking to use illegal online gambling platforms. This measure ultimately did not receive sufficient support.

Online gambling license application process

While no definitive date has been put on the beginning of the licensing application process, it looks like it will begin in 2020. Expectations are that the authorities will start to accept applications at the start of 2020.

It is expected that the new laws and regulations will be in place by January 1, 2021. Online gambling operators will be hoping to have their licenses in place before then so they can hit the ground running at the start of 2021. The KSA will be in charge of issuing licenses.

Combating potential issues

There will be a big onus on those who receive licenses to enact proper measures to help prevent problem gambling. As well as being at least 18 years old, anyone registering for an account on an online gambling platform will have to fill out a profile discussing their level of preferred risk. Gambling operators will have to closely monitor the betting activities of their players to spot any signs of potential issues.

The KSA will also keep a register of people who are known to have issues with gambling: the Central Register Exclusion of Games of Chance (CRUKS). The regulsator will be able to exclude any person from using online gambling platforms for a given time length. If operators allow those on the register to use their platform to gamble, they will face strict penalties.

Talks of restricting gambling advertising are also in the works. A proposal on this issue is due before September 1, 2019.

The Dutch authorities have been cracking down on errant operators for some time now. They regularly issue six-figure fines to companies. In 2018, fines of more than $1.95m were issued in comparison to $1.1m the previous year and $453,000 in 2016. This was the culmination of 23 different sanctions.