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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.

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Compliance Updates

Ukraine’s Cabinet of Ministers Approves Establishment of Gambling Commission

Niji Narayan

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Ukraine’s Cabinet of Ministers Approves Establishment of Gambling Commission
Reading Time: < 1 minute

 

Ukraine’s Cabinet of Ministers has approved the establishment of a gambling Commission to regulate gambling and lotteries. Its work is scheduled to launch in November this year.

The Gambling Commission will issue licenses, monitor and control the activities of gambling business operators.

“The launch of the commission will make it impossible for illegal gambling establishments to operate under the guise of state lotteries. And the legalization of gambling will stimulate the economy, attract investment, create additional jobs and receive a significant source of additional revenue,” the Ministry reports.

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Singapore’s Home Ministry Confirms Launch of GRA by 2021

Niji Narayan

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Singapore’s Home Ministry Confirms Launch of GRA by 2021
Reading Time: < 1 minute

 

Singapore’s Ministry of Home Affairs has confirmed the establishment of the Gambling Regulatory Authority (GRA) by 2021.

According to a statement from the ministry in April, the new body will be a statutory board and will be reconstituted from the current Casino Regulatory Authority (CRA).

“The Ministry of Home Affairs will establish the Gambling Regulatory Authority and complete the review of gambling-related legislation in 2021,” a spokesperson said.

Notwithstanding the Covid-19 pandemic, the Singapore authorities said they were pushing forward with the plans to create the new body that will be responsible for “regulating the entire gambling landscape in Singapore.”

The Singapore authorities have said the move to consolidate regulatory functions under the GRA would ensure Singapore was “abreast of technological and global trends,” and could “respond faster to emerging products in particular those that cut across different domains, and take a more holistic approach to gambling policies and issues.”

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Compliance Updates

BGC Unveils New Code of Conduct for Design of Online Games

Niji Narayan

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BGC Unveils New Code of Conduct for Design of Online Games
Reading Time: < 1 minute

 

To improve the safety of players and tackle problem gambling, the UK Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has unveiled a new code of conduct for the design of online games.

The new code of conduct follows on from the Safer Gambling Commitments published by the BGC in 2019 and is further evidence of the industry body’s commitment to driving up standards.

Among the major commitments included in the new code are minimum game cycle speeds of 2.5 seconds, the ending of turbo play, which allows players to speed up games, and the scrapping of multi-slot play, where a player can place multiple stakes on different games at the same time.

The code also introduces further mandatory checks on players’ activity to introduce breaks in play. All of these measures will be in place by the end of this month.

Michael Dugher, chief executive of the Betting and Gaming Council, said:

“The BGC was set up last year with the aim of leading a race to the top in terms of standards within the regulated betting industry.

“The new Game Design Code of Conduct is yet another example of our determination to address concerns head on and meet our safer gambling commitments.

“I’m sure that our members will embrace this approach and commit to its objective of improving player safety.

“And as we prepare for the forthcoming Gambling Review, it is further evidence of our industry’s commitment to improving standards – unlike the completely unregulated black market.”

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