Netherlands delays online gambling launch by six months


netherlands-online-gambling-market-launch-delayThe Netherlands’ regulated online gambling market launch has been pushed back by six months until July 1, 2021 due to the government requiring more time to craft secondary gambling legislation.

Last week, Netherlands Minister of Justice and Security Sander Dekker informed the country’s lower house of parliament that proposed amendments to the Remote Gambling Act (RGA) meant he now expects the RGA to take effect on January 1, 2021, six months later than previously announced.

Kansspelautoriteit (KSA), the Dutch gambling regulator, had previously stated that it would only officially begin accepting online license applications after the RGA’s enactment. The KSA further stated that vetting these applications would take six months, so the previously stated market launch of January 1, 2021 will now be delayed until July 1, 2021.

In a more favorable announcement, Dekker rejected calls from some legislators to implement a total ban on gambling advertising, saying “restricting gambling advertising is … not in itself an objective of the current Dutch gambling policy.”

Dekker said research indicated that harsh advertising restrictions would negatively impact the government’s desire to ‘channel’ local punters to locally-licensed gambling sites, which will be under far greater oversight in relation to responsible gambling initiatives. As a result, excessively hobbling local gambling sites’ ability to market their wares could have an “upward effect on addiction problems.”

Dekker cautioned that the government may look at strengthening existing advertising rules, including time-windows for marketing via certain media, limiting bonus offers or free-play credits, banning behavioral targeting and limiting celebrity endorsements, particularly if said celebs have strong youth-appeal.

Speaking of, Dekker announced that the KSA will require prospective online licensees to demonstrate that they have a functional age-verification system. Dekker noted that underage customers had, at least until early 2018, been accessing the state-run Nederlandse Loterij’s Toto sports betting product with relative ease.

Dekker said Nederlandse Loterij had since upgraded its age-verficiation procedures, and Dekker warned all prospective online licensees to ensure they follow suit no later than January 1, 2020. Operators who fail to comply will not only face the rejection of their online license application but the full weight of the KSA’s enforcement efforts.