On Saturday, the Netherlands Gaming Authority unexpectedly announced much stricter enforcement priorities for online operators serving Dutch customers.

Under its old enforcement policy, the Netherlands Gaming Authority would only actively enforce the country’s prohibition on online gambling if operators would either:

  • offer their services on a Dutch-language website;
  • make use of a website with a .nl web extension;
  • advertise their services on television, radio, or in print.

In a major and unexpected change, the regulator’s new policy, which comes into force on June 1, would add several new enforcement priorities to this list:

  • the operator makes use of a promotional website with a .nl extension that redirects the visitor to a .com domain;
  • the operator employs Dutch-sounding brand names, or has a website that features typical Dutch visual elements;
  • the operator facilitates the use of typical Dutch payment methods;
  • the operators fails to employ geo-blocking to prevent Dutch visitors from accessing its website.

Speel Verantwoord, the Dutch trade association of online operators, expressed surprise that the Netherlands Gaming Authority did not consult with the industry before announcing such a major policy shift, adding that the stricter measures would not be in the best interest of the consumer and would likely to have a negative impact the player channelization rate once the regulated market opens.

Even though this change in policy was announced unilaterally by the Netherlands Gaming Authority, consultation and dialogue between industry and regulator remain of paramount importance. The upcoming Gaming in Holland Conference & Expo, which will take place in two weeks time, continues to offer such opportunities and will feature, among others, Netherlands Gaming Authority CEO Marja Appelman.

In other important news, labor unions have declined to accept Holland Casino’s “final offer” for a new collective bargaining agreement. Strikes are therefore continuing, as employees are saying that they want to see some compensation for years of belt-tightening and cutbacks.