On Friday 2 February 2018, law firm Kalff Katz & Franssen, together with the International Masters of Gaming Law (IMGL), hosted its Annual Gaming Industry Event at the Koninklijke Industrieele Groote Club in Amsterdam.

Netherlands Gaming Authority CEO Marja Appelman and Ministry of Justice and Security representative Dennis van Breemen informed the audience of the latest regulatory developments in the Netherlands.

Minors and gambling: “Nothing”

Netherlands Gaming Authority CEO Marja Appelman revealed that the main regulatory focus of the Dutch regulator in 2018 will be to prevent minors from engaging in gambling.

“NOTHING is what you and I need to aim for when it comes to children. We all know that children up to 18 are not allowed to gamble. But still they do,” Appelman said. “In 2018, the Netherlands Gaming Authority will focus on making sure that children do not gamble.”

Appelman cited figures that revealed that 5% of Dutch minors play the lottery, 10% buy instant lottery tickets, 12% play on slot machines, and 12% engage in sports betting.

In order to achieve its goal of keeping children away from gambling, the Gaming Authority will focus primarily on currently licensed operators, Appelman indicated.

Appelman concluded by inviting licensed operators to engage in a dialogue with the Gaming Authority.

“The Netherlands Gaming Authority will work on this together with you. We will inform you about best practices,” Appelman said. “But we ask you to raise your ambitions. Improve and expand the measures you have put in place to exclude minors. Make it your priority.”

A residence requirement for remote gaming operators

Dennis van Breemen, Program Manager Gaming Policy Modernization at the Ministry of Justice and Security, informed of the steps that are being taken to guide the long-awaited remote gaming bill through the Senate.

“To anyone who has been following developments in the Netherlands from a distance, it might seem as if little has happened. But nothing could be further from the truth,” Van Breemen said. Nonetheless, progress has been considerably slower than expected.

The coalition agreement that was concluded last year between governing parties VVD, CDA, D66 and CU states that one of the conditions for granting remote gaming licenses will be that the provider must be established “in some way” in the Netherlands. “The government has yet to decide what, exactly, this requirement will look like,” Van Breemen explained.

Currently, two options are being considered. First, remote operators could potentially be required to offer their services to Dutch customers from a physical premises located within the Netherlands. “A requirement with quite some impact,” Van Breemen said with a healthy dose of understatement.

The second option would be to require “some kind of representation” to facilitate direct contact with the Dutch regulator and other authorities.

Somewhat ominously, Van Breemen added that Ministry officials “hope[d] to be able to address the residence requirement in the secondary legislation.”

If it turns out that this will be impossible, a rewritten version of the remote gaming bill will again have to pass the Dutch Lower House, which could mean even further delays.

Roundtable discussions

Van Breemen also announced that the Ministry, as part of the public consultation process, will hold roundtable discussions with various stakeholders to discuss the secondary legislation accompanying the remote gaming bill. Invitations will be sent out in March.

However, the Dutch Senate may not want to debate the remote gaming bill before the secondary legislation has been fully fleshed out. If so, a Senate vote before July 1, 2018, and a market opening in the first half of 2019 could become all but impossible.

Van Breemen: “I stopped mentioning an exact date on which we expect the remote gaming bill to come into force. I think it is proper to look at the process step by step; and to focus on achieving the first step, which is a public consultation on the secondary legislation. And also, and this is very important, continuing the debate in the Senate.”

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