Large demand for Netherlands licenses
There are 125 operators in the Netherlands that that have applied for online gambling licenses. Those who are awarded licenses will be able to begin operating in 2021, when the activity becomes legal.
It took many years to reach this point. Debates on the issue began in 2010 and the successful bill was introduced in 2016. Under the recently passed bill, there will be a 29% tax on online gambling revenues and an additional 1.5% levy that will go to the national regulatory body, the Kansspelautoriteit (KSA). Finally, a 0.5% portion will go toward funding treatment programs for problem gambling. These are among the highest tax rates in Europe.
While there was talk of the KSA being able to block the IP addresses of Netherlands residents using illegal offshore platforms, this idea did not get enough support. The new laws will not come into effect until January 1, 2021. The KSA will give out the licenses.
The Holland Casino is the only regulated gambling operation in the country. However, offshore operators have long targeted Netherlands residents. Legalizing online gambling in the country will mean that the government can now benefit from the country’s gamblers instead of having all of those funds going overseas.
Illegal gambling levels
It’s likely that some of the 125 operators who have applied for licenses will drop out of the race eventually. It will be an expensive process because, with all of the various taxes and a lot of competition, it will be tough to eke out significant profits.
There are also concerns that black market gambling will continue to be popular. The use of these platforms is on the rise, increasing by 20% in the past two years. About 1.8 million people gamble in some way in the country, with estimates that €600m ($684m; £537m)) is gambled annually, which means about €175m ($199m; £156.5m) in lost tax revenue.
Authorities fighting back
The KSA is ramping up its efforts to fight illegal gambling. The agency is making sure that the sector will have sound regulations. Anyone signing up for an account on an online gambling platform will first have to fill out a risk profile. Betting activities of players will be closely monitored to quickly identify any potential signs of problem gambling.
The KSA has a list of people who have known gambling problems, the Central Register Exclusion of Games of Chance (CRUKS). The regulator can exclude players on this list from online platforms for various time periods. There are also plans to impose some sort of ban on gambling advertising, with a proposal expected by September 1.
The KSA has dished out a lot of fines recently, including numerous six-figure fines. In 2018, nearly $2m (£1.57m) worth of fines were imposed, compared to $1.1m (£860,000) in 2017 and $453,000 (£355,500) in 2016.