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Thursday, 13 December 2018
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Regulatory mess in Netherlands – When will the new bill pass?

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Around 500.000 Dutch people gamble online every year, which actually isn’t much compared to the country’s population of 17 million, and only 13% of all gambling in Netherlands is done online. That’s a lower percentage than in most of Europe. The reason for this is the regulatory mess as authorities have tried to ban online gambling several times already but failed miserably, and now it’s a grey area market with many shady operators. Online casino Netherlands can give you a list of the good ones.

Technically, a Dutch player is only allowed to play legally on a Dutch registered site, but there are none, since there is no regulation window the companies can use to actually get legalized in Netherlands. That means the Dutch government doesn’t get any tax revenue from online gambling, as Dutch people just visit sites that allow registrations from Netherlands – at least 500 of them – and there’s no money in it for the government as they don’t oversee these financial transactions. The government allows this to go through, provided the international providers don’t actively target Dutch customers. But, a bad thing came from this, as those operators which are legit and want to do things by the book are scared off and aren’t accepting Dutch customers.

That means the players can’t play at the best sportsbooks and casinos, and are left with shady brands that don’t care if they’re dancing on the edge of regulation if they can make money from it. This significantly reduces the quality of service the Dutch players are getting, so neither Dutch people nor Dutch government benefit from this setup. The only party that benefits are the opportunistic operators that accept Dutch customers.

Technically, remote gambling remains illegal in Netherlands at this time, but the current laws that are in effect in Netherlands aren’t compliant with EU law and therefore can not be enforced.

Remote Gaming Bill is over 2 years old now

The Dutch authorities passed the Remote Gaming Bill on 7 July 2016, and it’s a landmark bill that would regulate online gaming in the country for the first time. The bill passed with a comfortable majority after several years of tiresome political efforts. However, the law didn’t yet come into effect as the Senate didn’t introduce it, and the exact date is pending.

Requirements for operators

The requirement is for online licencees to establish a physical presence in Netherlands, though it was explained that in order to comply with EU rules, this would only apply to operators without a presence in EU or EEA. However, all licencees will be required to establish a local representative that would work on addiction prevention. Gambling products will be subject to a gambling addiction risk analysis before being allowed to enter the market. A big part of the bill is regulation of problematic gambling behavior. Operators will be required to intervene if a customer shows signs of being a problem gambler, and a national self-exclusion list will be established. Close relatives can nominate you too!

Current events in November 2018

There is a 124-page draft version of secondary legislation that is to accompany the Remote Gaming Bill once it comes into force, and this secondary legislation is supposed to help to pass the Bill. The public consultation ran until 6 November 2018. The passage of the Bill in Senate is far from a foregone conclusion, and the political process that remains is complex, and it will be a tough journey. With so many interested parties, with so many ammendments and opinions, and conflicting laws, the situation could remain the same for a long time.

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