Netherlands delays online gambling market launch by two months


The Netherlands’ regulated online gambling market launch will be delayed by two months due to complications arising through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last Friday, Sander Dekker, Minister for Legal Protection of the Ministry of Justice and Security, sent a letter to the Dutch parliament’s lower house explaining that the Remote Gambling Act (RGA) is now expected to take effect on March 1, 2021, two months later than planned.

Since the government has previously stated that the regulated online market launch would occur six months after the RGA took effect – in order for the Kanspelautoriteit (KSA) regulator time to vet online license applications – the most recent launch timeline of July 1, 2021 will now be pushed back until September 1.

Dekker said this delay “creates more space for all parties to prepare” for the regulatory shift to a competitive online gambling market. This includes all operators ensuring that their systems can connect to the CRUKS centralized register of gamblers who want to self-exclude from licensed sites.

In June, Dekker warned of “the possibility of some delay” in the government’s online gambling timetable, citing the restrictions imposed on the government by the pandemic. This followed a previous six-month delay announced last November that was intended to give the government more time in which to craft the required secondary regulations governing online gambling.

The Dutch government has been busy following the playbook for its transition to a regulated market, including submitting its online gambling plan to the European Commission in July for approval. The KSA recently partnered with its counterparts in Malta to ensure stricter oversight of online gambling operations.

One of the more restrictive measures announced by the Dutch government is the requirement for online license applicants to purge the customer databases that many operators amassed during their unauthorized activity in the Netherlands pre-regulation. The intention is to have all online licensees start with a clean slate to ensure a completely competitive market from day one.