Published On: Wed, Jun 20th, 2018

The road for legalization online gambling market is open

First ChamberTHE HAGUE - It is likely that the First Chamber of the Dutch Parliament will soon give the green light to a bill that should legalize remote games of chance or online gambling. Dutch and foreign providers can then apply for a license from the Gaming Authority, with which they can, for example, place bets on sports results or casino or poker games on the internet.

On Tuesday evening Minister Sander Dekker for Legal Protection announced on behalf of the government additional measures to prevent gambling addiction in online gambling. This seems to have removed the objections, especially from the Christian government parties, against the bill.

The Second Chamber already voted in favor of the bill two years ago. The First Chamber, however, had many doubts about addiction risks, as witnessed by a large number of questions the MPs had asked about the proposed law. 'These measures ensure a more robust gaming policy in the Netherlands,' says Dekker. 'The approximately half a million online players in the Netherlands will be better protected, and the illegal and unsafe offer will be reduced.'

The endless legislative process also led to criticism. The Gaming Authority warned, for example, that decent companies are no longer interested in the Dutch gambling market, which is at the expense of the protection of Dutch consumers. The government also misunderstood gambling tax.

At present, online gambling at (foreign) providers such as PokerStar and Unibet in the Netherlands is still an illegal activity. However, many such companies want to apply for a permit, just like Holland Casino and the Dutch Lottery, the operator of the State Lottery, the Lotto and the Toto.

The bill to legalize the online gambling market comes from the previous Rutte cabinet. In the Second Chamber, the CDA and the ChristenUnie - at that time in the opposition- voted against it. Upon joining the Rutte III cabinet, both parties agreed with the intended legalization, although they wanted to tighten the rules further. Now that this part of the coalition agreement has been implemented, the legislative process can be resumed 'energetically', says Dekker.

The minister wants to make foreign providers more difficult to qualify for a permit. Gambling companies from outside the European Union must open a branch office in the Netherlands if they want to start an online gambling game there. This condition does not apply to providers from an EU country, but they must appoint a special representative in the field of addiction prevention.

Dekker also wants to make a strict distinction between games and online gambling. There is a fear that players will be tempted to gamble via internet games. Dekker will limit the recruitment and advertising activities for games of chance through games. He also allows gambling products to undergo risk analysis on addiction before they enter the market.

In addition to the legalization of the online gaming market, the privatization of Holland Casino is also awaiting the green light from the First Chamber. It has always been the intention to have this operation follow the legalization of online gambling market. D66 Undersecretary Menno Snel of Finance said earlier in the Second Chamber that the privatization of the casino business in mid-2020 must be completed.

The lottery market has opened. Last week, British Lottovate was the first competitor of the established order, such as the National Postcode Lottery. In order to stimulate market developments, the government is reducing the compulsory payment for charitable causes from 50% of the contribution to 40%.

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