Progress In Dutch E-gaming Regulation
By Jana Sedlakova
The Netherlands has long been known for its liberal attitudes and these seem soon to be extended to the realm of online gambling. Internet gaming regulation in the Netherlands, an initiative that has dates back to 2009 with the Jansen Commission, has moved up a level with the publication of draft legislation on 22 May 2013.
The Dutch Government statement says:
“The law includes strict requirements in order to prevent players from becoming addicted to gambling, to protect the consumers and to combat possible fraud and crime. The online providers will have to pay 20% tax. This means a significant step towards the modernization of the gaming policy in the Netherlands.”
The Dutch Government has recognised the need for regulation in order to protect its consumers against varied supposed threats that consumers are exposed to when playing on unregulated websites.
Consumer protection is a popular argument that favours restrictive regulations in online gambling.
The new regime in the Netherlands is proposed to commence operation from the beginning of 2015 and foreign remote gambling service providers will have access to the market subject to a Dutch licence. Ulrika Lomas,
According to the Government statement, the tax rate in the Netherlands is proposed to be set at 20 percent. Similarly, in the UK, the proposed draft Gambling (Licensing & Advertising) Bill raises tax implications.
However, for the rules to be effective they must undergo a process of scrutiny.
GBGC reported in its March issue, in the ‘Discussions Begin on Dutch Gaming‘ article that the bricks and mortar monopoly operator Holland Casino would be privatised. Holland Casino reported a loss of €652,000 in 2012.
The draft has implies that the Dutch system will only be B2C with no limits on the number of issued licences. Betting on ‘non-sport events’ (e.g. politics, TV shows etc.) will not be permitted but most casino games will be legalised as will international pooling of players. A number of consumer protection tools and tools to tackle problem gambling are being introduced including self testing of behaviour patterns and help centre contact details.
Furthermore, money transfers between different player accounts will not be permitted. The prohibition of offering unlawful gambling targets payment and internet service providers. Promotion tools such as bonus awards are allowed except they should not target specific playing patterns. The Gambling Authority will be given the discretion to exclude players whilst gambling service providers will need to keep a record of all self-exclusions.
In accordance with the emerging legal situation in the Netherlands Facebook has announced that it has halted all advertisements promoting Dutch gambling. Addressing the removal of such games on social networks Paul Tang, spokesperson for the Dutch Gaming Authority (Kansspelautoriteit), regarded it as a significant move in the fight against unlawful gambling and preventative measures against youth involvement in the activity. He said “Facebook is a low-threshold social network with easy access to youngsters. By taking this step, the organisation is showing it takes its social responsibilities seriously.” It has been suggested, that Facebook would face significant fines were it not to take these measures.
“I think this is a step in the right direction. We shall now see what the consultation adds/changes and will review the final draft after that.
It must be said though, that some of the requirements are ‘tech compliance’ heavy and we need to have a close look at the bylaws to look at the financial, technical impact, as well as the impact on conversion rates and easiness of use for the customers.
The government is trying to protect existing tax income whilst adding the iGaming tax of 20%. As long as other levies don’t creep up it’s a good starting point and a reasonable tool to onboard the .com economic activity. Consumer protection is one of the key principles of this draft.
A level playing field is different for each participant – the lotteries, land-based companies, state owned Holland Casinos and the international operators each have their own view on what that level playing field is. Generally, for the iGaming sector in Holland this is a reasonably good draft though”.
The Dutch Government statement can be found here.