Newsletter - Temporary withdrawals from Dutch online market prove costly for international operators

Technical problems spoil Dutch online market opening

As the regulated online market opened on Friday, October 1, the Dutch national player exclusion register (CRUKS) experienced a series of malfunctions, making it impossible for new players to register and already registered players to log on with licensed operators. These problems persisted throughout the weekend and were not fully solved until Monday afternoon.


Nonetheless, TOTO Casino, BetCity.nl, and GG Poker still managed to open their (virtual) doors on Saturday, October 2, while Holland Casino, Fair Play Online, and Batavia Casino (Play North) only launched on Monday, October 4.


The remaining licensees, Bet365, Bingoal, LiveScore Bet, and Tombola are currently expected to open by the middle of October.


Meanwhile, MPs Michiel van Nispen (SP) and Mirjam Bikker (CU) submitted Parliamentary questions to the Minster for Legal Protection, specifically questioning the decision to allow operators to launch prior to the CRUKS malfunctions having been fully solved.


Looking back (literally) at the 2021 Gaming in Holland Conference

In case you missed it, a full recording of the keynote speech delivered by Netherlands Gambling Authority Chair René Jansen at last week's GiH Conference is available here.


A brief video impression of the event is also available. Alternatively, you may check out the GIH Conference photo stream.


Possible match-fixing in Dutch reserve team football league

Multiple games in the Dutch reserve team football league have been fixed in recent years, a self-declared match-fixer told investigative reporters Guido van Gorp and Ben Meindertsma, creators of the “Gefixt” podcast.


The reserve team league features mostly young players who (still) earn a limited income. An analysis of several matches that were allegedly fixed did reveal suspicious betting activity, in particular with regard to bets placed with a major Asian online betting operator.

Land-based betting shops that do not require ID verification are another vulnerability, the match-fixer told the reporters.


Recently, the Permanent Committee for Health, Welfare and Sport of the Dutch Lower House organized a roundtable discussion on how to prevent match-fixing, indicating that there is some degree of political willingness, as well as a sense of urgency to address this issue in a more structural way going forward.


Upcoming events

The following events may be of interest to the GiH community.

  • Get ready for the 2021 Gaming in Germany Conference, which will take place 25 October at the Grand Hyatt Berlin.

  • The half-day event Reputation Matters: UK Gambling's Future at Stake, which takes place on 2 November in London, will take an in-depth look at the current and expected regulatory pressure facing the UK gambling industry.

  • SiGMA Europe has been rescheduled to 16 – 18 November, 2021.

  • The Betting on Sports America conference and expo has been scheduled for 30 November – 2 December, 2021 and will bring together all the major players in the fast-growing North American sports betting industry.

  • The World Gaming Executive Summit is returning live on 6 – 8 December, 2021 at the W Hotel, Barcelona.

  • ICE London and iGB Affiliate London have been scheduled to take place 1 – 3 February, 2022.

VNLOK members promise to adhere to rejected advertising code as public pressure to introduce additional marketing restrictions mounts

The hopes of newly founded trade association VNLOK, representing Dutch incumbents Nederlandse Loterij, Holland Casino, JVH gaming, Janshen-Hahnraths Group, and ZEBetting, to launch a nationally binding advertising code were dashed last week when leading Dutch consumer protection organization Consumentenbond blocked the proposals, claiming that the protections offered by the new advertising code were “far too weak” and hardly (if at all) exceeding the legally mandated minimum.


VNLOK said it would continue discussions with Consumentenbond, and announced on Friday that its members, for the time being, would nonetheless adhere to the new advertising code. Depending on future developments, Consumentenbond further said it would consider lobbying for a full gambling advertising ban.


A copy of VNLOK's temporary, currently non-binding advertising code is available here.

Meanwhile, the CEOs of fourteen prominent charity organizations (and charity lottery beneficiaries) published an open letter in a Dutch national newspaper warning that any future gambling advertising restrictions (which they deem unavoidable) should not impact the Dutch lottery sector.


Based on experiences from other European jurisdictions that instituted (near) total advertising bans, we know that such advertising restrictions primarily benefit incumbent operators. Thus, despite their apparent failure to introduce a sector-wide advertising code, the major Dutch land-based incumbents will not be terribly inconvenienced by further advertising restrictions – especially now that most of their international competitors will be at least temporarily out of the way (see below).


Temporary withdrawals from Dutch online market prove costly for international operators

Last week, Betsson, Entain, and LeoVegas, all of which are currently subject to the cooling-off period, announced that they would temporarily cease their offering in the Netherlands in accordance with the Netherlands Gambling Authority's most recent enforcement policy changes.


Initially, Kindred told EGR that it would continue to operate in the Netherlands, only to reverse its decision by Thursday night.


For some of these operators, the costs of their withdrawals are significant. Friday's Earning+More newsletter provided a helpful estimate:

  • Entain ~£60m in EBITDA or c.7.1% of 2020 EBITDA of £843m

  • Betsson ~SEK300m in EBIT or c. 27% of 2020 operating income of SEK1.13bn

  • Kindred ~£144m in EBITDA or c.52% of group EBITDA for 2020 of £274.2m

It remains to be seen how much of their current market share these operators can recover when (or perhaps more accurately, if) these operators receive a Dutch online license. Kindred and Betsson, in particular, appear to face an uphill struggle.


Other news

Minister for Legal Protection Sander Dekker announced that the current prohibition on using professional athletes in gambling advertising will no longer apply to providers of low-risk lottery games.


The Netherlands Gambling Authority has opened a public consultation regarding regulations for the provision of data to be used for research into gambling addiction.


Portugal's legislature has approved four bills that severely limit gambling advertising in the country.


Poker star Jason Koon has joined GGPoker as its newest global ambassador. GGPoker recently acquired a remote gambling license in the Netherlands.


William Hill International managing director Patrick Jonker will step down from his role at the end of October after less than three years with the firm.