Outgoing Dutch regulators slam gov’t for online gambling delay


netherlands-online-gambling-legislation-delayThe former chief of the Netherlands’ gambling regulatory body has slammed the Dutch government for slow-rolling online gambling reform.

On Monday, the Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) regulatory authority officially bid goodbye to Jan Suyver and Henk Kesler, who left their respective posts as KSA chairman and vice-chairman on October 1. The KSA’s new chairman is René Jansen, while the vice-chair’s seat has been filled by Bernadette van Buchem.

Suyver and Kesler reflected on the changes – and lack thereof – during their six-year run overseeing the Dutch gambling market. They noted that the government had urged them to prepare for the liberalization of the Dutch online gambling market as far back as 2012, yet the pair left the KSA without seeing that legislation become law of the land.

Suyver (pictured) assigned at least some of the blame on religiously inclined legislators in parties like the Christian Democratic Appeal and Christian Union, who’d previously blocked passage of the Remote Gambling Bill in the Dutch legislature’s lower house.

Suyver acknowledged that online gambling was a “complicated, ideological dossier” on which numerous parties held strong views both pro and con, but argued that “even though you are against gambling, that cannot be a reason not to regulate it. Rather, on the contrary, I would say.”

Suyver expanded on this view in an interview with Dutch financial daily Financieele Dagblad, calling it “a disgrace” that the Netherlands was “almost the only country left in the European Union which has not regulated online gambling.” Suyver said legislators “have a moral duty” in ensuring passage of the Remote Gambling Bill in order to ensure Dutch punters are afforded the consumer protections they’ll receive under the new regime.

Kesler was equally critical of Dutch politicians’ failure to act, saying legislators had “not delivered what we were promised” when he and Suyver joined the KSA. As a result, Kesler said he’d “become pretty cranky now and again,” and was unable to look back at his KSA tenure “with great satisfaction.”

Kesler said the KSA currently lacked effective tools to deal with online operators serving Dutch punters without local authorization, equating the status quo with going “to war in the lions’ den with a toothbrush. The consumer deservers protection, but politicians must give the KSA the means to do so.”

The Remote Gambling Bill is currently hung up in the Dutch senate, thanks to an open consultation for stakeholder input that won’t conclude until November 6. Among the significant items yet to be decided is the licensing eligibility of ‘rogue’ operators who have been hit with financial penalties by the KSA.