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The Current Absurdity of the Dutch Online Gambling Law

George Miller

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The Current Absurdity of the Dutch Online Gambling Law
Reading Time: 4 minutes

 

The Senate of the Netherlands has been discussing a bill that proposes to regulate online gambling in the country. A vote has been scheduled to take place this week. The bill was passed by the lower house in 2016 and has been languishing for two years because other issues were given priority.

This article seeks to acquaint Dutch online casino players on various aspects of this important topic through the following sections.

  1. The existing laws concerning online gambling
  2. The key points in the proposed bill
  3. The expected steps forward if the bill is passed
  4. Comparison with the online gambling laws in the United Kingdom

Existing Dutch Online Gambling Laws

The key legislation covering gambling in the Netherlands is the Dutch Gambling Act of 1964 commonly referred to as the Wok. Under this Act only one licence for land based casino operations has been issued. This is to the Dutch state-owned Holland Casino. The Act does not cover online gambling at all. There is no provision to issue licenses and none are therefore issued. It is illegal to offer any form of online gambling in the Netherlands as of now.

But the fact is that Dutch players are gambling at hundreds of offshore operators generating revenue of over €800 million from online casino gaming and other online gambling verticals like poker and sports betting. However, it is not illegal for Dutch players to play at these sites. The players themselves will not face prosecution. In the absolute worst case they may lose their deposits if the sites are blocked. If you’re willing to take a risk then you can play at any of our recommended online casinos. They are regulated outside Holland by top notch agencies like the Malta Gaming Authority and the Government of Gibraltar.

The Dutch Remote Gaming Bill

From 2012, the Dutch Gaming Authority, commonly referred to as KSA, had the task of regulating gambling in the country. As a part of its efforts the Remote Gambling Bill for online gambling was prepared. Here it is important to point out that two reasons have been cited for this.

  1. Pressure from the European Union to bring a competitive and regulated online gambling structure in Holland on par with that prevalent in some other countries like the United Kingdom.
  2. The Dutch government sees the massive online gambling turnover as a revenue source that is presently going out of the country. Regulating online gambling will bring taxation and licensing revenue to the national exchequer.

The key points of the Remote Gambling Bill are as follows.

Procedure

  • Interested online gaming operators will have to apply for a license.
  • KSA would scrutinise applications and award a five-year license to deserving operators.
  • Applicants based inside the European Economic Area would be given preference.

Taxation

  • The main revenue would come from a 29% tax on gross gaming revenue.
  • Another 1.5% would be levied to fund the activities of the KSA.
  • 0.5% would be levied to create a Responsible Gambling fund to rehab players inflicted with problem gambling.

Other restrictions

  • Limits have been proposed on marketing sites via non-pay TV channels.
  • There are restrictions on promoting in-play wagers during sports broadcasts.
  • Online gambling operators are to be prohibited from accepting wagers on any sports team with which they have a sponsorship deal.

The Way Forward

If the bill is passed by the Senate then the process of receiving and scrutinising applications can begin. Operators at present serving Dutch players through offshore regulators have expressed intent to become a part of the national regime.

Unfortunately, there is a strong move to exclude the operators presently functioning from overseas locations, also referred to as grey area operators, from the licensing process. If they are not altogether excluded, they are likely to face a cooling off period that may range from two years to five years. This was confirmed by Justice Minister Sander Dekker. This means that the best brands presently operating in Holland will not be given licenses.

  • If they are prevented from operating in the regulated market, Dutch players will be deprived of the best brands.
  • If they continue to operate from offshore locations, then KSA may be unsuccessful in channelizing Dutch players to licensed operators.

In either event, the system as a whole will lose out. There are even whispered rumours that the Dutch government may create a single state owned monopoly to offer online gambling services, as it has done with land based gambling.

Comparisons with the United Kingdom

The United Kingdom implemented a regulated online gambling regime about a decade ago. But it went about the business in a completely different way. It took the offshore operators then functioning in Britain on board. The United Kingdom Gambling Commission insisted that will have to apply for fresh licenses but was sensitive to the concerns these operators faced and tried to find mutually acceptable solutions in an amicable manner.

Today the United Kingdom Gambling Commission is regarded as one of the strictest regulators. It has imposed strict practices to be followed for prevention of underage gambling and problem gambling. Advertisements deemed unsuitable are immediately acted upon. Bonus and promotion offers that do not meet its standards of fairness and transparency have to be retracted. Hefty punishments are imposed on defaulters.

This has created a win-win situation for everybody.

  • The British players are getting products from the best online gaming operators in a favourable environment.
  • The online gaming operators are benefitting from players moving to them from sites that are not licensed in Britain.
  • The British government is getting additional tax revenues in the exchequer.

When one compares the Dutch and British scenarios it is evident that the Dutch absurdities are not likely to really succeed unless corrections are made before the legislation is passed.

Compliance Updates

Norway’s Stortinget Passes Gambling Advertising Amendment

Niji Narayan

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Norway’s Stortinget Passes Gambling Advertising Amendment
Reading Time: < 1 minute

 

The Norwegian Parliament (Stortinget) has approved a legislative amendment aimed at preventing offshore gambling operators from advertising their services to consumers in the country via the internet.

The amendment grants the Norwegian Media Authority (Medietilsynet) the power to order internet service providers and media companies to prevent access to illegal marketing.

“This [amendment] will reduce the scope of gambling advertising, and may in turn help reduce the number of problem gamblers,” Abid Q. Raja, Minister of Culture and Gender Equality, said.

“[Previously] we have not had the necessary tools to enforce the advertising ban on foreign operators. But with this provision, the Media Authority is empowered to impose a duty on internet owners and distributors to prevent access to advertising for illegal gambling,” Raja added.

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Compliance Updates

Sweden’s Spelinspektionen Submits Match-fixing Regulations for EC Approval

Niji Narayan

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Sweden’s Spelinspektionen Submits Match-fixing Regulations for EC Approval
Reading Time: 2 minutes

 

Swedish gambling regulator Spelinspektionen has submitted new rules on match fixing to the country’s National Board of Trade, for the board to notify the European Commission of the changes, and has conducted an impact assessment of the rules.

The new rules would limit betting to the top four divisions of football. Also, betting on Swedish Cup would be limited to matches featuring teams from the top four tiers. Markets for matches involving foreign clubs would only be permitted when each participating team is from the top four tiers of each country’s footballing pyramid. Operators would only be able to take bets on international matches from under-21 level upwards.

Last month, when it announced the plans to ban betting on lower-league matches, Spelinspektionen also proposed banning betting on training matches or friendlies entirely, but opted to continue to allow international friendlies.

In addition, betting must not be offered in the event of a rule violation such as a yellow card or penalty in football, while betting must not be offered on individual performance of anyone under 18 years of age.

Also, licensees will be required to produce annual reports on potential match-fixing activity.

The new rules on match fixing can only take effect after the EU Commission has given its opinion, which takes just over three months. Spelinspektionen said the rules could come into effect no earlier than the end of 2020.

“Match fixing is considered as one of the biggest threats to sports today and as a result of this as well against betting and the companies that provide betting. There are, as far as can be judged, great risks in offering bets on games at low divisions in football,” Spelinspektionen said.

“Monitoring from both sports federations and the media is lower and the athletes do not make money and are thus more vulnerable. There is also a risk of athletes or whole associations coming in contact with match fixing at lower levels and then taking the problem up through the pyramid with any sporting success,” it added.

Spelinspektionen also said it was aware of the risk that the restrictions could apply in encouraging more players to play on unlicensed sites.

“The unlicensed gaming market is never further away than a click on your computer or phone,” it said.

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Australia

Australia’s ACMA Moves to Block 10 More Illegal Gambling Websites

Niji Narayan

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Australia’s ACMA Moves to Block 10 More Illegal Gambling Websites
Reading Time: < 1 minute

 

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is set to request Australian internet service providers (ISPs) to block 10 more illegal offshore gambling websites.

The sites to be blocked are Grand Fortune Casino, Raging Bull Casino, True Blue Casino, Free Spin, Two Up Casino, BoVegas, Cherry Gold Casino, Slots Empire, Red Dog Casino and Wild Joker.

ACMA received over 30 complaints about these services that are accessible in Australia. ACMA’s investigations found that these sites breach the Interactive Gambling Act 2001.

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