Regulation should result in a daily driver, not a Rolls Royce
By Rutger Jan Hebben, Managing Director of Speel Verantwoord, the industry organization of online operators in the Netherlands
After years of preparation, the remote gaming law will soon be presented to the Dutch House of Representatives. Nevertheless, the draft of the bill has been made available to the public already. Two issues are of special importance to Speel Verantwoord: canalization and responsible gaming.
Canalization deals with enabling as many players as possible to use the regulated .nl gaming options. The challenge is to find the right balance between the wishes and responsibilities of the player on the one hand and the legislator, regulator and operator on the other. It is sometimes easy to forget who the legislation is intended to benefit, exactly – the player! He or she enjoys playing online games and therefore demands an attractive selection of games, experience and player safety. Therefore, excluding certain types of games, such as bingo, is not in the interest of the player and does not contribute to responsible gaming, if only for the reason that 300,000 Dutch people play the game online. The new legislation should make it attractive for the player and the operator to switch to the regulated market. The experience of online gaming changes at a rapid pace, and the legislator, regulator and operator must adapt to the changing circumstances accordingly.
Efficient and effective enforcement is also necessary in order to create a healthy market. Granting a permit should be a sign of trust that the operator has everything in order and that the players can play the games in a safe, reliable and responsible environment. If that trust is not present, then no permit should be granted. For the operators it is vital that the complete package of legislation and regulations are practical and feasible and that the total tax and cost pressure are manageable.
In order to create an attractive online gaming selection, the operators must have enough regulatory and financial space to actually convince the player to play in the regulated market. We should be aware that regulating the online market, combined with a responsible gaming, is something that has never been done before in the Netherlands. We will have to work together to learn which set of rules is most effective. It is not necessary to build the Rolls Royce of gaming regulations right now. Instead, we should produce a sturdy daily driver, with a set of practical rules that can be feasibly implemented and that build on current practice. Only then will the market be able to develop properly, allowing us to determine what works and where there is room for improvement.