Regulated iGaming in the Netherlands could be set to endure another delay as a result of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Dutch MPs have attended a debate on the Remote Gaming Act, which was due to come into force in January 2021. The market is planned to go live six months later.
Following this meeting, government officials gave the go-ahead to a motion that would delay the market’s regulation – in a bid to deal with the “shock” that has been caused.
Last week, Dutch Justice Minister Sander Dekker was also asked to clarify his stance on what was meant by excessive gambling.
What has been discussed and recommended?
In a report which was published last week, numerous motions were mentioned. One of these – titled motion 82 – points out that preparing for a regulated online gambling market has been delayed. This due to the impact of COVID-19 and its subsequent disruptions.
As part of the country’s lockdown, all land-based casinos were forced to temporarily close. Following this, many operators believe that a number of players turned to unregulated websites. They argue that if the Remote Gaming Act had been in place, such behaviours could have been prevented.
On the flip side, brands hopeful of obtaining a licence are worried about whether or not requirements can be met before the proposed launch date. With this in mind, Dekker has not ruled out the possibility of delaying proceedings by a couple of months.
The Social Justice and Security Minister does not envisage a major delay. However, he wants to discuss this with other political figures in the country.
A suggested reduction of operator licences from five years to three was dismissed, with Dekker believing that this isn’t a good idea.
A number of other motions were put forward. These include the following.
- 78: Calls on the government to amend the Remote Gambling Decree in such a way that licences for organising remote games of chance are issued for a maximum of three years before the decision enters into force, and to inform the House about this.
- 80: Calls on the government to raise in a European context the need for all countries within the EU to tackle illegal gambling providers, to spread the importance of addiction prevention within the EU and to inform the House about this.
- 83: Calls on the government to extend the cooling-off period by a proportionate period if the entry into force and/or the market opening is postponed.
Dekker also asked to clarify advertising laws
Last week, Dekker was also asked to clarify his stance on advertising for iGaming in the Netherlands.
A member of the opposition Socialist Party suggested that, from Dekker’s previous comments on gambling ads, he meant “advertising is fine, just don’t go too far”. However, said individual wants to know where the line is crossed and things become “too far”.
In response, Dekker argued that the answer isn’t as simple as that. After this, he turned to Article 4a of the RGA.
Article 4a states that operators must avoid creating unrealistic expectations through their advertising. Moreover, promotions have to be both fair and balanced.
Also banned are directing ads at vulnerable groups, as well as content downplaying the risks of excessive gambling.
Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) will, according to Dekker, also pay particular attention to ads that target minors. Content from unregulated operators and misleading advertising will also both be closely monitored.
Last month, it was ordered that all Dutch operators were to wipe their player databases prior to next year’s planned market regulation.