Delay for Netherlands Online Gaming Launch

There was bad news for igaming companies from the Netherlands this week after the country’s regulator, the Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) confirmed that the regulated market launch of the country’s online gaming sector, in accord with the Online Gambling Act will be delayed by a further month.

The launch will now take place on October 1 this year after an intervention by Sander Dekker, the Dutch Minister for Legal Protections who has been given the task of overseeing the implementation of the Act. On Tuesday, Dekker informed the Dutch parliament that a one month delay was needed to finetune some of the technical requirements associated with the new regulated market place.

Dekker’s decision also means that the licencing period for the new market, which was due to open on March 1 this year, will be pushed back to April 1, six months prior to the launch of the market itself.

The new delay is the third time that the Act’s implementation has been delayed. Originally scheduled to become law on July 1 this year, it was delayed in November 2019 when Dekker approved a series of last-minute changes to toughen up operator compliance requirements and to give the KSA additional controls that would enable it to protect the market against unlicensed operators.   

In his latest statement to the parliament, Dekker underscored the importance of ensuring that all licensed operators had access to ‘CRUKS’ the new national gambling self-exclusion scheme which is operated by KSA.

Dekker also responded to two motions from opposition ministers. Madeleine Van Toorenburg, of the Christian Democrats, asked whether the government would call for the creation of EU-wide laws that would protect member states’ markets against the danger of illegal operators.  

Dekker replied that under current EU-laws, gambling policy mandated no common harmonisation on policies or standards, and member states were allowed to set up their own gambling laws and market requirements. As such, he said it would be hard to develop EU safeguards. But he maintained that the KSA had played an important role in raising standards by drawing up the Act.

Green Party member Niels Van den Berge asked if the government held any European comparisons on the impact on state-run lotteries by the new regulated online marketplace. Dekker said that  an assessment has been carried out by the government as part of their research into launching the Act, but he urged caution in drawing comparisons between the Dutch state lottery’s future performance and more mature gambling markets. He pointed to the UK and Norway as examples of countries that had launched online gambling regimes but maintained the performance of lottery sales.

Nevertheless, the protection of lottery performance and the money it raises for good causes will be one of the key issues when the new sector launches, and Dekker and the KSA will be keen to avoid the examples of Denmark and Italy, where lottery sales declined after the online market launched.

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