Dutch KSA faces political pressure to ‘punish cowboys’

Following two and a half years of debate and obstruction, on 19 February the Netherlands House of Representatives, moved to approve the nation’s ‘Remote Gaming Act’ (Netherlands RGA), laying foundations for a licensed online gambling marketplace, compliant with EU competition standards.

European industry stakeholders, currently waiting for the Act’s mandate to be passed into Dutch law through the process of a Royal Decree. It is believed that licenses will be granted by 2020, ending an arduous process for all vested parties involved in the liberalisation of Dutch online gambling.

Betting leadership will be monitoring the movements of Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) closely, as the Netherlands gambling authority moves to publish the initial framework for Dutch licensing applications.

During the two-year review period of the Dutch RGA, the KSA acted as an aggressive regulatory body against international operators deemed to be targeting Dutch consumers illegally.

Case in point, during the course of 2018, the KSA issued fines totalling €1.7 million, to European operators bet-at-home, Betsson, MRG Group, Mr Green and Betclic, stating that the incumbents had continued to breach digital laws despite having been warned to stop all Dutch betting activities.

In previous updates related to the progress of the Netherlands RGA, KSA governance had stated that as a Dutch regulatory authority it would not approve of ‘rogue operators applying for licences’.

The KSA’s tough stance has been backed by numerous Kamer MPs, who during the final review of the Gaming Act underlined that ‘bad actors should expect a cooling off period’.

Furthermore, Dutch ministers signing off the Act’s mandate stated that ‘Cowboys would not be eligible for licenses’.

Nevertheless, the passing of the Gaming Act has been overseen by a new-sheriff-in-town, with KSA appointing Rene Jansen as new Chairman last October, overseeing the final review of Dutch online gambling legislation.

Confirming the approval of the Netherlands RGA, Jansen stated, ‘the Remote Gambling Act empowers the Netherlands Gambling Authority to protect participants in online games of chance. Such protection is impossible in an illegal market. This modernisation of the legislation will better enable us to enforce safe gaming in a fair market – provided, that is, that players choose to play via licensed operators.’

Betting leadership now awaits to see whether Rene Jansen will see the licensing applications period as a clean slate for international incumbents, or simply continue the KSA tough stance on online operators… Dutch observers expect a few licensing surprises.

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