The Dutch Remote Gambling Act has been approved, opening major opportunities for online gaming operators and suppliers, after a long wait.
I think we started talking about the opening of the online gambling marketing in The Netherlands over 10 years ago. We had anticipated that something was about to happen and the “big day” has now arrived with the Dutch Remote Gambling Act (Wet online kansspelen op afstand – RSA) approved with a majority vote of 44 out 75 by the Dutch Senate!
Dutch online gambling regulations approved
It is safe to say that the adoption of the Dutch Remote Gambling Act was no small feat. In the last few weeks, it became clear that there was still uncertainty and quite a lot discussion among the different stakeholders. Nevertheless, a big step was taken by the Senate.
After more than 2.5 years, the Dutch gambling market will now officially open its doors for (licensed) operators of online games of chance.
Next to the vote with respect to the Dutch Remote Gambling Act itself, the Senate also voted on six different legislative motions from members of the Senate. These motions mainly aimed to introduce a pre-determined cooling-off period for “bad actors” (2 years or 5 years were suggested) and stricter rules for the advertisement of online games of chance (including a complete advertising ban).
Based on the vote,
- A cooling off period of 2 years for bad actors has been accepted;
- Illegal websites can be blocked;
- The Minster is forced to consider before 1 September 2019 whether a complete ban for advertising for remote gambling would be an option and
- The Minister must investigate whether enough prevention measures have been taken against “young problematic players”.
It is still early to say what this all means for gambling operators who are potentially interested in joining or expanding its activities to the Dutch market.
The main contents of the Dutch Remote Gambling Act
The Dutch Remote Gambling Act provides for a gaming license regime for the offering of online games of chance aimed at The Netherlands. For parties who wish to apply for such license, the following key highlights of the RGA are relevant:
1. Location of the license holder
The license holder must have its principal establishment in any EU or EEA Member State. This obligation can be waived by the Board of Directors of the Dutch Gambling Authority (Kansspelautoriteit, “KSA”), if further conditions are satisfied.
2. Type of company of the license holder
The license holder must be a public or a private limited liability company according to the laws of any Member State of the European Economic Area (EEA), or an European limited company.
3. Prevention of gambling addiction
The license holder must implement measures to avoid gambling addiction, e.g. by identifying and adequately informing players, monitoring their gaming behaviour, requiring a player profile which sets out the boundaries of that player and intervening where necessary. Where appropriate, operators must report a player with problematic gaming behaviour to the Board of Directors of the KSA for involuntary exclusion from participation in such games.
4. Central register
A central register for the exclusion of participants to games of chance will be created. The license holder that may offer remote gambling cannot allow the participation of an individual that has no subscription with the license holder. Furthermore, the license holder cannot allow persons that either
- under 18, or
- that have an entry in the central registry for the exclusion of games of chance, or
- that have indicated (at their own initiative) that they have overstepped the borders of their gambling behavior.
5. Access to the electronic means
Operators may be required to record and provide information and must give the supervisory bodies direct access to the electronic means used by them to organize the games.
6. Tax regime
A uniform tax rate of 29% applies for all games of chance, i.e. both land based games of chance and remote games of chances.
7. Additional requirements
All other regulations on restrictions, provisions, duration and assignability of the remote gambling licenses will be stipulated in the Remote Gaming Decree (RGD), which is currently still in draft version. The RGD will include requirements regarding the reliability of the holder of the license, the UBO’s and decision makers, the requirement to have a representative in The Netherlands to comply with rules regarding the prevention of gambling addiction, and advertising rules. As the draft RGD is a ministerial decree, no further votes will take place and it is expected that the final adoption will shortly take place by the minister.
What’s going to happen next for the Dutch online gaming license regime?
There are a few last steps to be taken in the legislative process. The final Dutch Remote Gambling Act will be approved by the King of the Netherlands, after which it will be ‘countersigned’ by the minister. After this, the RGA will be published (promulgated) in the Official Gazette. The date of entry into force will be regulated by a separate Royal Decree on the entry into force.
With respect to the license itself. It is not yet clear when exactly parties can apply for a license with the KSA and when the exact license requirements/application forms will be published. We received mixed information from the KSA in this respect (differing from summer 2019 to summer 2020). However, the KSA mentioned that more guidance will be published shortly.
We will continue to closely monitor relevant developments and will keep you further updated.