In addition to our own reporting on the recently-published Senate questions on the remote gaming bill, we have decided to also publish the reactions of various industry insiders. We will update this post as more reactions become available.
Gaming Lawyer Justin Franssen, Partner at Kalff Katz & Franssen:
Although some concerns were expressed, it appears that a majority of Senate fractions does not have fundamental objections to the bill.
Among the questions raised by members of the Senate, a recurring theme is concern with the bill’s stated goal to achieve a player channelization rate of 80 percent. Senators not only asked whether this goal was still tenable as a result of the proposed increase in online gambling tax, but also with regard to compliance costs and the limited effectiveness of enforcement measures, especially now that the regulator has lost the power to make use of DNS and IP blocking.
Members of the D66 fraction expressed some interesting views with regard to the continued exclusion of online lotteries from the legal online product offering. Like the Council of State, the D66 fraction rightfully questions whether such continued exclusion complies with European law, as such an exclusion of a single vertical may not be deemed coherent and systematic, and therefore lacking in objective justification.
Furthermore, D66 points to the fact that the European Commission expressed state aid concerns related to the differential tax treatment of land-based bingo and land-based sports betting vis-à-vis its remote counterparts. It is quite conceivable that this differential tax treatment will become a serious issue further down the line, as there appears to be no legal justification for a differential tax treatment for land-based versus remote sports betting.
Rutger-Jan Hebben, Director of Speel Verantwoord, the Dutch trade association of online operators:
The Senate has raised important questions as to how the bill’s stated goal of an 80% player channelization rate is to be achieved, as several amendments were adopted by the Lower House that will seriously affect channelization.
Otherwise, we see a lot of similarities with questions that were already raised at an earlier stage of the debate. We are looking forward to a speedy reply by the State Secretary.
Eric van Vondelen, independent gaming and consultant and former secretary of the Netherlands Gaming Control Board:
The fractions who supported the bill in the Lower House hold a clear majority of 44 seats in the Senate. Normally, passage of the bill should not be a problem, but time is short. It will be all but impossible for the bill to be debated and voted on during the remainder of this calender year.
If the plenary debate in the Senate ends up being postponed past the Lower House elections of March 2017 – certain political groups may have an interest in such an outcome – all bets are off.
The current government will then be outgoing; and PvdA may no longer feel itself bound by the coalition agreement. In that case, there may no longer be a Senate majority in favor of the bill.
In short, we are almost there, but we have not yet made it all the way.
Image: cc Flickr