30 January 2015 : An Important Date in the Gaming Calendar
By Dr Alan Littler
On 30 January 2015 the Gaming Practice of Kalff Katz & Franssen hosted their Annual Gaming Industry Event in Amsterdam. Guests heard from three key speakers:
- Michel Groothuizen, Director General of Sanctions & Prevention Policy of the Ministry of Security and Justice
- Joseph Cuschieri, Executive Chairman of the Malta Gaming Authority
- Julian Harris of Harris Hagan, London
Naturally there was great interest in what Michel Groothuizen might reveal about the forthcoming regulation of remote gaming. In essence the current period is characterised by calm before the storm; the storm being the House of Representatives sinking its teeth into the remote gaming bill. As many already know, the House delivered an immense document containing 600 questions and points of critique on the draft remote gaming bill, which was published in November 2014. The Ministry is now due to publish its written response. Michel Groothuizen told the audience that the Ministry’s reply is to be expected in mid-February. To the best of our knowledge this is due to occur before the end of this month. Parliament will of course respond to the Ministry’s input and this opens a window of unpredictability in terms of a medium-term forecast. Will parliamentarians be content with the answers of the Ministry? Will a storm disrupt any hopes of the bill enjoying a smooth passage through the lower house before the summer recess?
One of the key points of contention in parliament has been the absence of secondary legislation. With a little optimism we forecast that such draft secondary legislation will enter the public domain towards the end of March, or early April. A public consultation will run on the draft texts; a key moment for all those interested in the future remote gaming market. Accounting for all the other hurdles the regulatory package will have to jump through Michel Groothuizen predicted that licensing would not start before mid-2016. Let’s hope that progress will not be blown off course.
30 January was a key date for another reason in the gaming calendar: the Ministry published a draft bill to amend the Wet op de kansspelen with a view to amending the regulation of the land-based casino market. In addition to introducing a licensing regime for remote gaming the government’s modernisation plans include reforming the casino market and the licensing of the semi-permanent lottery lotteries.
Central to reform of the casino market is the privatisation of Holland Casino and the opportunity for other operators to enter the land-based market alongside the new incarnation of the current monopolist. The draft bill foresees that privatised Holland Casino will retain 10 of its current 14 venues, with an additional two venues being introduced in the north-west and east of the country. Six venues will thus become available, outside the grasp of Holland Casino. Changes to this land-based market should follow shortly on the heels on those to the remote market, with 2017 due to witness a reshuffled deck of casinos. Importantly, a public consultation process runs on the bill until 28 March 2015.
All in all, changes to the remote and land-based sectors are nearing landfall and 2015 will prove to be a key year.