Speaking at the 16th Kalff Katz & Franssen/IMGL Annual Gaming Industry Event, Netherlands Gambling Authority chairman René Jansen called on operators to demonstrate “responsibility” when the regulated Dutch online market opens. The KKF/IMGL Annual Gaming Industry Event was hosted by the gaming practice of Kalff Katz & Franssen and the Netherlands’ leading gaming lawyer Justin Franssen at the Industrieele Groote Club in Amsterdam.

Taking active responsibility

Jansen introduced his remarks (full text here) on operator responsibility by observing that gambling is “more controversial in the Netherlands than in many other countries.” As a result, every aspect of the regulated online market will be subjected to critical scrutiny, “from advertising, to addiction prevention, to the participation of minors.”

Future licensed operators should not just follow the letter of the law, they are also expected to obey its spirit, Jansen warned: “Of course, it goes without saying that you should comply with laws and regulations. However, there is also such a thing as taking responsibility. Taking actual responsibility goes beyond being compliant with legislation.”

No further clarity on cooling-off period

When the Remote Gaming Act was adopted by the Dutch Senate in February 2019, the Upper House also adopted a motion requesting the government to ensure that operators who had violated Dutch gambling laws in the recent past would be (initially) excluded from the regulated online market.

In response, the Netherlands Gambling Authority drew up a policy rule stating that operators could only apply for a Dutch remote license if they had not targeted the Dutch market for at least two years immediately prior to their license application.

When the policy rule was published, it was still being assumed that the Remote Gambling Act would come into force on July 1, 2020, with the opening of the regulated market occurring six months later, on January 1, 2021.

In the mean time, this timetable has changed: the Remote Gambling Act is now projected to come into force on January 1, 2021, followed six months later by the opening of the regulated online market on July 1, 2021.

As a result, a number of internationally licensed operators who only ceased targeting the Dutch market after July 2018 (but before January 1, 2019), may now escape the intended negative effects of the cooling-off period.

This was much to the chagrin of a majority of legislators who subsequently requested the government to consider changes to the proposed cooling-off period in order to to be able to exclude these operators from immediately entering the regulated Dutch iGaming market.

In his speech, Jansen admitted that no further progress on this issue has been made. “I can’t tell you anything new at this moment. We have not yet met with the minister to discuss this issue. We will come back to this at a later moment,” Jansen said.

Progress on exclusion register

In more positive news, Jansen also revealed that concrete progress is being made on CRUKS – the Dutch exclusion register. This announcement will undoubtedly alleviate some concerns among industry observers regarding the readiness of CRUKS at the projected market opening date.

“Starting around the middle of this year, we will be inviting parties to test the register, taking into account the fact that the land-based sector must be ready to implement CRUKS by January 1, 2020,” Jansen said.

“The Executive Board of the KSA has decided yesterday to formally start the public tendering procedure for the future operational management of this register.”

“We expect to award the contract to the selected market party in May. Before the summer, we will hold information meetings and conduct technical tests with land-based operators, followed by meetings and tests with online operators in the autumn,” Jansen added.