Online gambling clampdown successful, claims Dutch regulator

The Dutch Gaming Authority (DGA) has claimed more than half of the 40 online operators it issued with enforcement warnings in June have proved compliant with its request to stop targeting the market.

The companies that have either already stopped targeting Dutch consumers or “have indicated that on very short notice they will do so…have a market share of around 60-80% in the Netherlands”, said the DGA yesterday, citing a September 2011 report by the Boston Consulting Group.

The DGA warned operators in June that they had two months to stop using a extension, targeting consumers with Dutch language websites and advertising on radio, television and/or print media, or risk a fine of €780,000 or 10% of estimated revenue from the market. The Dutch High Court also ruled in March that operators, not ISPs, bore responsibility for blocking Dutch customers from their websites.

By adjusting their offer, the DGA continued, “these companies show they are aware of their social responsibility and that they are willing to be regulated.” Announcing the clampdown in June, the Dutch regulator said operators that proved compliant with their warning were “more likely” to be granted a licence if remote gambling was authorised and regulated in the Netherlands.

Despite fighting a long-standing legal battle against online operators over access to the country’s online gambling market – its De Lotto monopoly winning a landmark five-year legal battle against Betfair and Ladbrokes in June 2010 – the Netherlands government had been preparing draft online gambling regulations ahead of its collapse in April over failure to agree cuts to its budget to bring it into line with EU rules. Prime Minister and liberal leader Mark Rutte has since formed a new coalition government following last month’s general election.

The DGA, or Kansspelautoriteit, was established by the Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice on 1 April this year, replacing the Netherlands Gaming Control Board.

The DGA said the recent clampdown formed part “of a broader policy to safeguard public interests such as the prevention of gambling addiction, combatting criminal activities and the protection of consumers.”

DGA board member Paul Tang said they continued to actively pursue the operators that had not responded to their enforcement warning. “They will certainly not escape our attention,” he said.

Article written by Stephen Carter

Casino Choice journalist

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