The new coalition government in the Netherlands will push ahead with plans to license and regulate online gambling operators, it confirmed yesterday.
The pro-market VVD Party, led by caretaker Prime Minister Mark Rutte, and the Diederik Samsom-led centre-left PvdA, announced in their coalition policy agreement:
“We will modernise gambling policy. Online gambling, sports betting and poker events will be strictly regulated. This way we expect to prevent the offer of illegally operated games of chance in the Dutch market. Compliance with licence conditions will be strictly enforced.”
The coalition said it aimed for the market to be legalised and regulated during the next four-year term, due to start next week. The policy document proposes a gaming tax of 29% to be levied on operators’ gross profits from the market. Illegal operators – understood to be those that refused to comply with the Dutch Gaming Authority’s enforcement warnings issued in June – will also be “actively excluded”.
The new government also announced its intention to privatise Holland Casino, which holds the legal monopoly on offline casino gambling in the Netherlands via its 14 bricks ‘n’ mortar properties throughout the EU Member State.
“Gambling services are not a core government task, therefore, Holland Casino will be sold, subject to conditions.”
The Dutch regulator announced earlier this month that more than half of the 40 online operators it issued with enforcement warnings in June had stopped targeting the market using dot.nl extensions, Dutch language websites and advertising on TV and/or print media. The Dutch Gaming Authority (DGA) or Kansspelautoriteit said these operators accounted for 60-80% of the market.
bwin, Ladbrokes and Unibet are understood to be among the operators that stopped directly targeting the market after the DGA said that those companies that proved compliant with their warnings were “more likely” to be granted a licence if remote gambling was authorised and regulated in the Netherlands.
The VVD has in the past expressed support for all forms of online gambling – poker, casino, bingo and sports betting – to be legalised in the Netherlands. The PvdA has pledged its support for the regulation of online poker.
At present, all forms of online gambling, including sports betting, poker and casino, are considered illegal by Dutch authorities, with all authorised gambling residing with the state lottery, Holland Casino and De Lotto. Only De Lotto, which won a landmark battle against Ladbrokes and Betfair in Europe’s highest court in 2010, holds a licence to offer any products online.
Under Dutch law, offshore gambling websites which decided not to comply with the DGA’s pre-regulation deck clearing exercise by continuing to target customers in the Netherlands risk a minimum fine of €780,000 euros, rising to 10% of estimated revenue from the market.
Article edited by Stephen Carter