Netherlands Expects Few Licences Applications Than Anticipated

The Netherlands seems to expect far fewer applications for online gambling licences than previously stated. This week, the Netherlands government released a draft General Administrative Order for enforcing the Remote Gaming Act passed by the legislature a year ago. Legislators will now concentrate on further tweaking.

Sander Dekker, the Minister of Justice and Security also sent letters to both legislative chambers in response to suggestions for further changes to gambling advertisement policies, responsible gambling and the’ time out’ that will be placed on online ‘cowboys’ who did not heed the warning shots from the Kannspelautoriteit (KSA) gambling regulator.

The original idea was for ‘cowboys’ to show that two years before submitting an application to compete in the new regulated market they had stopped actively targeting the Dutch market. Dekker said talks with the KSA suggest that adding six months to this’ cooling off’ period might be worthwhile.

The initial proposal was for the Act to take effect on July 1, 2020, after which, on January 1, 2021, the KSA will start accepting licence applications ahead of the market’s start. Yet last November, those deadlines were set back six months, and apparently the KSA does not see why rogues would benefit from the government’s failure to turn around on time in their homework.

There will ultimately be 68 online licensees, of which 41 will be foreign companies, a report prepared for the government by Sira Consulting reports. This is not quite square with last summer’s announcement by the KSA that it had received 183 expressions of interest from potential applicants, 89 of them internationals.

Another portion of the Sira study uses a test in which the KSA accepts 90 applications “and 25% of them ultimately do not receive a permit.” Which could suggest that KSA boss René Jansen warned last December this would be a meticulously detailed law.

The KSA plans to issue five-year licences which will allow online sports betting, race betting, casino games and poker, but private operators will not be able to access online lotteries. Licensees must pay an initial fee of € 800k plus an additional € 800k per year, along with the previously agreed 29 percent tax on gaming income.

Licensees will not need to set up an office in the Netherlands if they already have a presence in the European Union or the European Economic Area, although they will be ““obliged to place a control database” in the region. Licensees will also need to have a “representative” in the country “for the effective development and implementation of the addiction prevention policy.” ADVERTISING The current plan is to prohibit all broadcasting gambling advertising between 6 am and 9 pm, while lotteries will be allowed to start running promotions at 7 pm. Likewise, gambling ads must not contain endorsements from influencers and other role models “who have substantial reach among minors” and young adults.

Dekker pushed back against the lawmakers ‘ demands for a total ad ban, saying “consumers must be able to take note of the legal offer of remote games of chance” if the government wants to lure a large number of them away from internationally approved gambling sites.

Online operators will be forbidden from advertising any other product category on their website or app because “the gaming interface is entirely devoted to remote gaming; no other products or services are shown in terms of both offers and advertisements.” Obviously there was some ambiguity about the prohibition of live / in-play betting during sport matches, but the document says this “does not preclude the general promotion of live bets to increase the name recognition of that license holder.”

So live bet promotion all right, match-specific live bet promotion during a match is not all right, although there is an exception on their websites or applications for operators that live stream matches.

Betting operators will be barred from providing bets on events that are usually more subject to manipulation, described as “moments that often do not have a major effect on the outcome of the game, and which a player can easily influence as desired,”  like ‘ negative moments ‘ like yellow or red football cards or a first penalty in hockey.

Betting operators will also need to keep away from youth and recreational sporting events. ESports betting will not be permitted, at least not until the games are organised under traditional Dutch sports organisations. Following consultations with Dutch sports bodies the full list of forbidden markets will be published later on.

Operators will be banned from allowing customers to wager on credit but this will not prohibit customers from using credit cards to finance their accounts.

Bonus incentives will be permitted but bonuses can not be offered to any customer who has “took an intervention measure within the framework of the staged prevention policy.” The length of the period during which bonuses can not be provided to these customers will differ depending on the level of intervention that the customer has chosen to impose (deposit limits, time limits, total exclusion, etc.).

Bonuses can not be “tailored to the individual playing behaviour of a player” to “protect the player against undue participation.” Bonuses also can not “incite excessive playing behaviour and may not be offered, for example, because the player has recently suffered a major loss.”

Keep in mind that all of the above is subject to change once Dutch lawmakers have their assistants read the 155-page regulatory behemoth and offering their summaries.