Likely Dutch Government Coalition to Include Two Parties Opposed to Gambling Liberalization

Former Minister of Finance Gerrit Zalm (VVD) has been appointed to help form a new coalition government consisting of VVD, CDA, D66, and ChristenUnie.

The proposed government coalition will consist of two political groups (CDA and ChristenUnie) that are strongly opposed to further gambling liberalization.


Dutch Amusement Arcades Likened to “Children’s Casinos”

Following yesterday’s coordinated spate of publicity on the dangers of amusement arcades that offer non-cash prizes to children twelve and over, MP Madeleine van Toorenburg (CDA) asked a seemingly sympathetic State Secretary Klaas Dijkhoff of Security and Justice to amend legislation that currently allows these so-called “children’s casinos.”

However, responsible gaming expert Pieter Remmers (Assissa) responded by stating that potential problems “should not be blown out of proportion” and that it would be wise to first investigate whether the alleged relationship between amusement arcades and gambling addiction even exists.


Holland Casino’s Tram Roulette Wins 6 Awards at Cannes Lions 2017

Holland Casino’s promotional game Tram Roulette, featuring real trams at Amsterdam’s Rembrandtplein, has won no less than six bronze lions at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, the world’s largest gathering of advertising professionals, designers, digital innovators, and marketeers.

The promotional activity was designed and produced by TBWA\NEBOKO in cooperation with JCDecaux, local market leader in outdoor advertising.


CJEU Prohibits Enforcement Actions against EU Operators Unlawfully Excluded from Local Markets

The Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) ruled last week in the case C-49/16 (Unibet International against Hungary) that member states are not allowed to restrict gambling operators licensed in another EU member state from operating in local markets, if these restrictions are imposed in a discriminatory or non-transparent manner:

“In those circumstances, the Court of Justice concludes that the principle of the freedom to provide services […] precludes that legislation.

Finally, the Court of Justice states that no penalties may be imposed on the basis of rules held to be contrary to the principle referred to above.”


Implications of the CJEU Decision for the Dutch Market

Maarten Haijer, Secretary General of international industry body EGBA, commented:

The Court’s ruling is a clear message to other Gaming Authorities, including the Dutch Gaming Authority, that they must not enforce regulation that does not comply with basic EU law. We expect these Member States to reconsider and lift these enforcement measures   consumers, they fail to channel the consumers to reliable providers, instead they merely prop up failed regulation.”

Haijer added that the CJEU, as well as the Dutch Council of State, found in 2011 and 2013 that current Dutch gambling legislation is in violation of EU law.

“There is no other alternative for the Netherlands Gaming Authority but to immediately cease its current enforcement measures,” Haijer said.

Noted gaming lawyer Justin Franssen of Kalff Katz & Franssen offered the following preliminary response (a more extensive analysis is expected later this week):

“Whilst the specific regulatory circumstances in the Netherlands differ from those in Hungary, it must be noted that both the CJEU and the Dutch Council of State established years ago in the Betfair case that the license allocation system pertaining to sports (and horserace) betting breached Community law. […]

This situation forced various parties to re-engage in license allocation litigation. To date, all relevant cases have been lost by the Dutch authorities. This cannot come as a surprise given the preceding judgments of both the CJEU and the Council of State. Nevertheless, up and until today, the Dutch authorities refuse to introduce proper EU compliant procedures pertaining to allocation of gaming licenses.

Unfortunately, this leaves the industry with no other option than to continue with legal proceedings. In case the outcome of pending cases are not materially different from existing judgments, then this may impact the enforcement capabilities of the Netherlands Gaming Authority and the Public Prosecutor’s Office.”


A Gray Online Market for the Netherlands?

If the Netherlands Gaming Authority will indeed be limited in its enforcement options, there is a good chance the country will see the return of an extensive gray online market for the foreseeable future, according to gaming consultant Michael Ellen of Regulus Partners:

“KSA has also indicated that it is now running a no-warnings enforcement policy on websites ‘targeting Dutch players,’ a concept they explain by listing specific examples. […] and then ‘If you don’t target a Dutch consumer, it’s very acceptable.’

However, in order to do this, Dutch law and enforcement will need to be both transparent and equitable (eminently achievable but easy to fail) or risk CJEU opprobrium.”


Netherlands Gaming Authority to Continue Current Enforcement Policy

Asked to comment on the CJEU’s decision, the Netherlands Gaming Authority issued the following statement:

The CJEU verdict does not lead to any new considerations that are relevant to the Netherlands Gaming Authority or Dutch gambling policy. The Netherlands Gaming Authority will therefore continue its current enforcement policy.

The allegation that current Dutch gambling legislation is contrary to EU law is incorrect. Over the years, the Dutch Gambling Act has been regularly tested against European regulations and has met this test every time. In addition, the Gaming Authority has so far won all legal proceedings on sanctions.”


Other News

The soon-to-be-finished Van der Valk Hotel in Apeldoorn may get a casino.


A participant in the Postcode Loterij won €31,875, despite not having paid for his ticket.


Investment company Waterland is reportedly looking to sell the JVH gaming & entertainment group, owner of the Netherlands’ largest land-based AWP chain Jack’s Casino.


The Belgian police has executed several search warrants in the city hall of the Flemish municipality Middelkerke in relation to suspected fraud with regard to a public casino tender.


The Czech Republic’s regulated iGaming market has not had the response the authorities were hoping for, the country’s regulator said.


The UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has commenced enforcement action against a number of online gambling operators after its investigation of the sector found that customers are being treated unfairly.


Amaya shareholders have approved the proposal to change its corporate name to Stars Group, in order to better reflect the relation with its flagship PokerStars brand.


The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) has published its Annual Report and Financial Statements for the financial year ending 31 December 2016. The country’s gaming industry is estimated to have generated just over €1 billion in terms of gross value added in 2016, which represents a 12% growth over 2015.


The award of a single Italian Lotto license will have an unexpected follow-up before the European Court of Justice with an uncertain outcome.


Unikrn and Betgenius agreed to a partnership to create an immersive live eSports betting platform.


The UK Football Association (FA) has ended all of its sponsorships with betting companies, including mutually terminating a long-term Ladbrokes deal.


William Hill is shutting down its online operations in Israel and will be laying off more than 200 of its employees.


Bet-on-lotteries operator Multilotto has acquired a remote operating license from the UK Gambling Commission.


The UK Gambling Commission has fined Lottoland £150,000 for failing to make clear to consumers they were betting on a lottery outcome rather than participating in the draw itself.


Gamstop has been announced as the brand name for the UK’s National Online Self-Exclusion Scheme.


Cyprus signed a deal Monday for the construction of what officials say will be Europe’s biggest casino.