Netherlands lower house finally approves online gambling bill

netherlands-online-gambling-bill-parliamentThe Netherlands could launch its regulated online gambling market by Q3 2017 now that parliamentarians have approved the necessary legislation.

The lower house of the Dutch parliament approved the country’s Remote Gaming Bill by a wide majority on Thursday. The Senate is on its summer break, but is expected to pass the bill without too much fuss once they reconvene this autumn.

The legislation imposes a 29% tax on both online and land-based gambling revenue, plus a further 1.5% to fund the activities of the Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) regulatory body and another 0.5% to fund problem gambling programs.

The bill underwent a furious spate of amending earlier in the week, including a prohibition on the country’s land-based gambling operators from using their current player databases to market their online sites, a move that ensures they won’t have an unfair advantage over new entrants.

The amended bill also removed the right of the KSA to IP-block the domains of unauthorized gambling sites. The amendment noted that blocking unauthorized sites was a noble goal but found there were “more disadvantages than advantages” to this scheme, which could interfere with “the smooth technical operation of the internet.”

The bill contains some new advertising restrictions, including limits on marketing sites via non-pay TV channels and promoting in-play wagers during sports broadcasts. Online gambling operators will also be prohibited from accepting wagers on any sports team with which they have a sponsorship deal. Further amendments are likely once the bill hits the Senate.

In a separate vote, the Lower House approved a motion calling for the KSA to assert greater control over the online gambling industry in Curaçao and St. Maarten, two former members of the Netherlands Antilles and now constituent countries of the Netherlands.

A motion put forward by two MPs calls for the KSA to go after illegal gambling operators in these two island states. The KSA already has a history of slapping six-figure fines on some Curaçao-licensed online gambling sites that accept Dutch customers.

The Dutch government appears doubtful about the motion’s legality. The Curaçao Chronicle reported that when the motion was initially announced, the Junior Minister of Justice and Security pointed out that Curaçao and St. Maarten are autonomous entities when it comes to monitoring their gambling sectors and the Netherlands couldn’t take unilateral action to alter this arrangement.

Curaçao is home to a number of online gambling operators, the most prominent of which is online sportsbook Pinnacle (formerly Pinnacle Sports).