Legal online gaming was approved in the Netherlands earlier this week, with first permits possible next year. Holland’s Senate voted to back the Act on Remote Gambling, more than two years after it was initially considered by the country’s House of Representatives.
The first licenses allowing companies to provide online gaming will be issued in late 2020, according to Tim Pruntel, an attorney at the Blenheim law firm in Amsterdam.
While some 300 companies have reportedly expressed interest in running a gambling website in the Netherlands, according to the Dutch daily news site Financieele Dagblad, fewer than 50 of these firms have more demonstrably moved to file for an operator license.
Protect and Serve
Rene Jansen, chairman of the board of directors of the Dutch Gaming Authority, Kansspelautoriteit (KSA), said in a statement the regulator was “very pleased” with the Senate vote, describing it as a “milestone.”
“There will be strict conditions in a permit. They have to protect players, prevent gambling addiction and guarantee a fair game,” Jansen added.
Applying for a license is expected to cost €40,000 ($45,417).
Under the act, the KSA will “protect” players in online games, Jansen explained. “This is not possible in an illegal market.”
Once permits are issued, it will be on players to ensure sites where they gamble online have permits from the KSA.
As envisioned as far back as 2016, permit holders in the Netherlands will pay a 29 percent tax on games of chance, make a 0.25 percent contribution to the addiction fund and a 1.5 percent contribution to the Gaming Authority on the gross results from the games.
Once permits are issued, Dutch wagerers will likely be able to take part in legal gambling on football (soccer) and other sports, as well as play at internet casinos, bingo, and scratch tickets, according to Sprout.nl.
Until now, many in the Netherlands have gambled online without the provider holding a legal permit in that country.
Amendments Approved and Rejected
When the Senate approved the new act, it also approved three amendments, Pruntel told Casino.org.
- Operators who had deliberately targeted the Dutch market will be subject to a two-year blackout
- The government should consider bringing back IP and DNS blocking when the act is evaluated after three years
- The government should investigate the desirability of a complete ban on online gambling ads.
Two motions were rejected,however: a general ad ban for online gaming and a five-year blackout for those who targeted the Dutch market illegally before the bill was passed, Pruntel said.
There were some concerns voiced by members of the Senate about the law and online gaming. These included how online gaming laws would be enforced once websites are legalized, as well as the possibility for increased problem gambling, negative influences from ads, and illegal providers could be identified, Pruntel said.
Last week, the Senate delayed voting on privatizing the state-run Holland Casino Group after hearing criticism over concerns it could lead to increased problem gambling, specifically. Under that proposal, ten branches of Holland Casino Group would be sold off in a bundle, and the remaining four would then be sold as another group, according to the Dutch Broadcast Foundation (NOS).
The privatization debate will resume in May, Gert Riphagen, a Netherlands Senate spokesman, told Casino.org. A vote is possible in June, but the proposal could be withdrawn altogether as well.