Start-up problems spoil Dutch online market opening


The long-awaited opening of the regulated Dutch online market was marred by technical problems as (currently) unlicensed operators decided to shut down their offer to Dutch consumers. Lastly, a voluntary advertising code developed by the new trade association VNLOK received a less than warm welcome.

Central exclusion register woes

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 until early Saturday evening, causing several newly licensed operators to postpone their launch until Monday.

On Saturday, only TOTO Casino, BetCity.nl, and GG Poker managed to open their (virtual) doors. Holland Casino, Fair Play Online, and Batavia Casino (Play North) will launch on Monday, October 4.

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

License hopefuls temporarily withdraw from Dutch market, brace for financial impact

On Thursday, Betsson, Entain, and LeoVegas, all of which are 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.

VNLOK members promise to adhere to rejected advertising code

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.”

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.

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