During the 2020 Gaming in Holland Conference, the International Masters of Gaming Law hosted a Masterclass entitled “Licensing & Lessons from Abroad”. Part of this Masterclass was a presentation by Alan Littler and Frank Tolboom of Amsterdam law firm Kalff Katz & Franssen. The presentation served as a practical guide for interested parties to help them obtain a Dutch remote gambling licence.
First, some key regulatory features of the future Dutch remote gambling market were explained. A licence can be awarded for a period of up to five years. In principle licence applicants have to be established in the EU/EEA (an exemption is possible, but only in limited circumstances). Licence applicants will have to pass a reliability test, part of which will include an assessment of their past behaviour, including whether they fulfilled the required cooling-off period. Licensees will have to be connected to the Central Exclusion Register (CRUKS) and have a Control Database placed in the Netherlands. The applicable gambling tax, levies, licence application fee, and financial guarantee were discussed. It was explained that the regulatory regime will place a lot of emphasis on the prevention of gambling addiction, which is for example reflected by the requirements around staff training and the need to have a dedicated addiction prevention representative for the Netherlands.
Subsequently, the licensable products were addressed, which can be divided into casino games and sports betting. Betting on virtual sports will be viewed as a casino game; fantasy sports as sports betting. Esports betting will be permitted conditional upon requirements around the governance of esports being satisfied.
The Netherlands Gambling Authority (“NGA”) has yet to publish a complete overview of the required documentation that must be submitted when applying for a remote gambling licence (notwithstanding the fact that on 30 September 2020 the NGA published an overview on its website). In anticipation of such a complete overview, Kalff Katz & Franssen have already prepared a licence application checklist.
The checklist is a preliminary tool, drafted on the basis of the Remote Gambling Act and accompanying secondary legislation together with information already published by the NGA and experience from previous licence application processes. It presents a list of documents that licence applicants can already start preparing, dealing with a number of subjects: general information, reliability test, expertise, finances, consumer protection, operational processes. As such interested parties do not have to wait until the last moment (close to the opening of the licensing process) to assemble their licence application portfolio. The preparation of a remote gambling licence application will be a rather extensive task, and prospective applicants are advised to start sooner rather than later.
Earlier in the year Kalff Katz & Franssen developed a digital resource, the KKF Licensing & Compliance Portal. Via this Portal they will be able to assist clients with preparing their remote gambling licence applications. In this Portal all relevant legislation has been compiled (including English translations) as well as the relevant policy and guidance documents by the NGA. Furthermore, Kalff Katz & Franssen has already pulled together, on a thematic basis in English, all relevant information on a topic by topic basis (with individual documents on each topic, for example, the addiction prevention policy, the advertising and marketing policy, and the payment transaction policies and procedures). This way clients can already have a clear overview of which requirements they must meet and also what they must demonstrate to the NGA in the licence application process. Of course this information will be kept up to date so as to reflect future developments (such as when the NGA publishes new policy rules).
Some further topics that were delved into during the presentation are: the financial guarantee that applicants will have to provide, the addiction prevention representative that licensees will have to appoint, the rules around bonusses, and those on inspections and reporting obligations.
As a conclusion to the presentation, five takeaways were listed for parties interested in obtaining a Dutch remote gambling licence. These were:
If you already offer remote games of chance in the Netherlands, assess when your operations became compliant with the cooling-off criteria;
Review the regulatory requirements and perform a gap analysis. What have you done in other jurisdictions and how does this align with what you will have to do in the Netherlands? This in terms of your policies, procedures and technical systems;
Perform a gap analysis for the required documentation that will need to be submitted (including those which will need updating just before submission);
Consider the implications of setting up an establishment in the Netherlands (but note, an establishment in the Netherlands is not mandatory);
For those companies providing services to unlicensed gambling operators: beware that the enforcement landscape will start changing as of 1 March 2021 and that enforcement risks will increase.
Should you need more information or are interested in the aforementioned Portal, then do not hesitate to contact Kalff Katz & Franssen via email@example.com.