The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) has issued its support for Minister Sander Dekker’s ongoing work to modernise the Dutch gambling framework and urges the Senate to approve his proposals in the next weeks. The Netherlands is currently one of only three EU countries who do not regulate online gambling – leaving its online gamblers playing in an unregulated environment and depriving the Dutch state of valuable tax revenue.
For the specific measures to execute the law, the European Commission issued useful guidelines on how EU member countries can ensure a consistent, high level of consumer protection for their online gamblers. EGBA believes that the new Dutch gambling law should be based on these robust consumer guidelines in order to provide Dutch players with the consumer choice and protection they need in today’s online world.
“The introduction of a Dutch online gambling framework is urgently needed. The Netherlands is now one of the few EU countries who do not regulate online gambling – and this situation is no longer tenable.
Despite the current lack of regulation, recent research shows that 1.9 million Dutch citizens – over 10% of the total population – participated in online gambling last year. These players played on websites which are based in other countries and are neither regulated nor pay taxes in the Netherlands.
Online gambling is a popular pastime – but the uncertain policy basis in the Netherlands hurts normal, law-abiding citizens and puts their protection at risk by forcing them to play in an unregulated online environment. In 2018, the Dutch online market was worth €592m, meaning the Dutch state is also unnecessarily losing about €175m in tax revenue each year.
That is why EGBA welcomes Minister Dekker’s ongoing commitment to modernise the current laws and advocates for the introduction of a well-regulated, multi-license model.
For online gambling regulation to be a success, it should be underpinned by a licensing system which is able to attract enough companies to meet the demand of well-educated and internet-savvy consumers. For Dutch people, whether they play poker or like betting on sports, they should be able to find all the products they are looking for with companies regulated in the Netherlands, that pay taxes there and apply local consumer safeguards.
A licensing model which facilitates this consumer choice will create a better functioning market with players who are properly protected and valuable tax receipts for the Dutch state.” – Maarten Haijer, Secretary General, European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA).
Sweden Riksdag Passes New Gambling Legislation
The proposal to introduce new online gambling supplier licences in Sweden had been in doubt after the change of government. However, the Riksdag has finally approved the move along with other changes to gambling legislation.
Spelinspektionen had already pencilled in a meeting in Stockholm on December 7 to provide information on the B2B licence regime for gaming suppliers. It has said that the application process will open on March 1, 2023.
The Swedish government proposed the introduction of B2B supplier licences in an attempt to boost channelisation. The software licences will be required from July 1, 2023. Spelinspektionen has advised suppliers to start preparing applications with the aim to submit them from March 1 in order to make the deadline.
The application fee has been set at SEK120,000 (around €10,000), and the regulator expects to initially issue about 70 licences. Only operators that work in the regulated market will be accepted for licences.
The bill also included more measures to exclude unlicensed gambling from the Swedish market, expanding the existing prohibition on promoting and advertising unlicensed gaming. Some proposed changes were not introduced, including plans to moderate the marketing of licensed gaming and to change the rules on slot games on ferries between Sweden and Finland.
Meanwhile, a permit will no longer be needed to exhibit entertainment games such as pinball, car games and LAN gaming.
Olympic Casino Faces Another Fine in Lithuania
The Lithuania Gambling Supervisory Authority has issued another fine to UAB Olympic Casino Group Baltija following a further breach of advertising laws in the country.
The Authority fined Olympic Casino €25,000 after it found the operator featured information on its website about how customers could watch live sports events on Setanta Sports, but also encouraged users to bet on sports.
The text in question set out how customers would watch live coverage of events such as the Spanish La Liga and Italian Serie A football leagues, as well as WTA tennis and Nascar motor-racing in the US.
While the promotion stated that coverage of events would be free, it also included text in relation to how customers could make deposits and withdrawals to and from their account on Olympic Casino. The advert included phrases such as “Be part of the game”.
Assessing the case, the Authority ruled the promotion was in breach of article 10, paragraph 19 of the Law on Gambling of the Republic of Lithuania, which relates to encouraging people to participate in gambling.
The Authority said the information about the possibility to watch events for free was not considered a gift, but information with which the operator sought to draw attention to its services, as well as to persuade and encourage people to participate in gambling.
However, the Authority also noted that the decision was not final and could be subject to an appeal by Olympic Casino.
Kindred Challenges the Coercive Fine in Norway
Kindred Group, via its wholly owned Maltese subsidiary Trannel International Ltd, has been informed that the Norwegian Gaming Authority has decided to reinstate the coercive fine against Trannel International despite the changes Kindred Group has undertaken.
Over the past month, Kindred has made wholesale changes to the brand to meet the compliance standards set out by the Norwegian regulator – which were detailed in a cease-and-desist letter handed to the subsidiary in 2019.
The changes included removing all Norwegian flags from the website and channels, changing the language on all sites from Norwegian to English, discontinuing all advertising and marketing activities in Norwegian and stopping the offer of talking to Norwegian-speaking customer service agents.
However, even with the new changes, the regulator is persisting with the “non-enforceable” fine, which Kindred believes has no legal basis and will challenge in the courts.
Kindred said in a statement: “Trannel firmly disagrees with the NGA’s assessment as it is entirely legal for Norwegian residents to access and use international gambling services, which are licensed in the EU/EEA area and offered within a safe and secure environment, Kindred will continue to accept customers residing in Norway passively.
“The NGA does not have jurisdiction over Trannel as the company is domiciled in Malta and duly licensed by the Maltese Gaming Authority. Therefore, Kindred is confident that the coercive fine cannot be enforced by the NGA outside of Norway.”
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