Netherlands Senate Approves Online Sportsbooks, Casinos
The Netherlands Senate voted to legalize online gambling, clearing the way for Dutch and foreign firms to apply for gaming licenses. Both houses of the Dutch States General have approved the measure, because the House of Representatives passed the online gambling bill in 2014.
The Dutch government must submit secondary legislation to the European Commission as a final step to approve online gambling. The secondary legislation should face no obstacles from the European Commission, because it seems to sync with EU policies vis a vis gambling.
If approved, the new regulatory framework should allow domestic and foreign gaming companies to receive licenses for online casino gaming and online sports betting. Poker sites will not be covered under the legislation.
50 License Applicants Expected
In Monday hearings before the vote, the Financieele Dagblad told MPs that over 300 gaming companies have shown interest in operating gambling sites in the Netherlands.
The Financieele Dagblad estimated that roughly fifty of those companies will apply for licenses when the application period opens in 2020.
At present, the state-run gambling site, Holland Casino, is the only operator which legally signs up Dutch players. Foreign gaming companies routinely flout the longstanding ban on online betting, though.
Dutch Online Gambling License Terms
Licenses will last for a maximum of 5 years. Six months after an application is filed, operators will receive an answer on their license application. Dutch authorities can extend the licensing period once for a six-month period.
Vetting will include a review of gaming violations in the Netherlands and other jurisdictions. Applicants must turn over financal, tax, and criminal compliance records. Each applicant must have a stated integrity policy in place.
Also, each license holder must have a representative in the Netherlands who is trained to comply with Dutch rules regarding the prevention of problem gambling. Essentially, it is a responsible gambling representative.
Prior to accepting a player, the operator must run the player’s identity through the Central Register of Gaming Exclusion — the Netherlands’ self-exclusion list. Also, new players are allowed to set the limits of their betting behavior: max limits, max deposit, and play limits (in time).
Licenses will be granted for casino games, sports betting, and horse race betting. No licenses for poker or lotteries will be offered.
Legal Online Sportsbooks, Casinos
The propensity to sign up Dutch players is one of the reasons parliament decided to liberalize the online gambling sector. The ban has had little effect on online gamblers in the Netherlands, so it was decided to legalize, license, and tax the practice.
Though the lower house of the States General passed a bill 5 years ago, the Senate’s actions were spurred on by the House’s more recent actions in 2017. Two years ago, the Netherlands’ House of Representatives voted to allow third parties to legally offer online gambling.
CDA, CU Opposed Gaming Bill
The Netherlands’ two Christian political parties, the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) and the Christian Union (CU), voted against the Dutch online gambling bill. Leaders of the CDA and CU believe legalized online gambling will led to more social issues which stem from problem gambling.
Though the two parties are part of the ruling coalition, they only hold 15 of the 75 seats in the Senate, so Mark Rutte’s government was able to overcome their defection. While it is a big victory for foreign online gaming groups, sites may not be launched until 2021.
Expect 2021 Launch of Dutch Online Sportsbooks
Most of 2019 will be concerned with the secondary legislation for the European Commission. Next year will include licensing decisions by Dutch gaming regulators and financial officials, along with soft launches of online sportsbooks and casinos to allow the government to determine the safety and security of license holders’ websites.
Early 2021 is anyone’s best guess for the rollout of legal online and mobile bookmaker sites and casinos by international gaming companies.