The Netherlands is one of the newest markets to welcome online gambling as the country launched its Remote Gambling Act on 1 April 2021.
Several setbacks plagued the long-awaited opening of the Dutch online gambling sector. The expectation was to launch on 1 July 2020, but thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, a couple of postponements from the Dutch regulatory body itself, and a technical glitch, operators could only launch on 2 October.
Dutch players now have safe and secure options for online gambling and sports betting. A few weeks before its launch, the Dutch Regulator, Kansspelautoritiet, announced 10 online casino operators who made the cut and became the pioneers of licensed Dutch remote gambling.
In an industry overflowing with casinos and the Dutch online market estimated to turn €800 million by 2024, the question is: “Why are there only 10 approved operators?”
Here we have a look at the pros and cons of what a highly regulated Dutch market presents.
The Good News
One reason a regulated online gambling industry is so important is that players can enjoy safe and secure igaming. The knowledge of having a regulatory body with consumer protection at the heart of it allows players to enjoy games of chance in a relaxing environment.
With KSA licensed online casinos like Holland Casino, Bet365, Tombola and Betent, punters in The Netherlands can legally play casino games like slots, poker, and short-odds Bingo from wherever they please in their country. Should a player feel they have a complaint about a provider or perhaps targeted by an unlicensed one, they now have a regulatory body they can report this to.
A primary aim of the country’s remote gambling act is to offset gambling addiction and to protect minors from exposure to online gambling. CRUKS is a self-exclusion platform that players and providers can access to exclude themselves or a loved one with a gambling problem. This is a network-based program and the individual won’t have access to any of the licensed platforms in The Netherlands.
With almost a dozen licensed online casinos, Dutch punters can now expect tailor-made online gambling experiences.
Providers can also offer players in The Netherlands gaming in their own language, bonus offers tailored to their preference, and games specifically designed for them. A cultural connection can be crucial for consumer attraction and retention in remote entertainment.
The Bad News
Perhaps the KSA set the bar a few inches too high regarding the regulatory framework of its Remote Gambling Act. The inspectorate said in an interview that they were expecting over 100 applications and a day before the official launch, the application total was only 29.
Regulations put in place by the Remote Gambling Act imposed various restrictions on unlicensed casino providers that may have signed up Dutch players. The Gambling Authority published a policy which came into effect in July 2019, that instructs any unlicensed operator to take a cooling-off period where they block all services to Dutch players. This instruction compelled operators who wish to get Dutch licensing, if they offered any services to, or targeted, Dutch players. The cooling-off period can last up to 33 months.
Major players in the online gambling industry had to follow suit and we’ve seen Betsson, Entain, Kindred, and LeoVegas step out of the Dutch market for the time being.
The financial implications are huge, as Kindred predicts a loss in its EBITDA turnover to the value of €144 Million, and Betsson expects a monthly loss rate of SEK 25 million.
In the meantime, Dutch players aren’t able to enjoy premium content from world-class providers, as everyone waits out the lengthy exclusion.
The restrictive protocols and red tape certainly affect the number of applicants for a Dutch Online Gambling License and players from the country have a limited number of choices. The Netherlands aims to channel 80% of its online gambling patrons to licensed and regulated providers. One thing we know about consumers of late is that they want options and if the inspectorate cannot provide enough, the natural flow may drive consumers to unlicensed sites.
A Matter of Perspective
Certain outcomes from the regulatory changes in The Netherlands will be positive for some and probably not-so-positive for others. Casino games are games of chance and although gamblers may take home lucrative winnings, it still is an expense to the consumer.
On the flip side, it is an income for the provider and; they say the Dutch Online Gambling sector could become the largest market in Europe.
The Remote Gambling Act makes provision for gambling income taxes and this brings an income to the government. Players and providers are due to pay tax on gambling winnings and the country charges up 21% VAT on gambling revenue. This means that the country will see quite a large tax income injection within the next year.
All’s Well That Ends Well?
Whether the regulators’ proverbial reins are too tight is a matter of perspective right now. With so many big players who are “cooling off” before applying for a license, time can only tell how successful the regulated Dutch online gambling industry will become.