Online gambling legislation in the Netherlands has hit a stumbling block after a tough debate took place in the Senate earlier this week. The discussions revolve around ‘The Remote Gambling Bill’.
The Bill was easily approved by the lower chamber of Congress in July 2016 but it has struggled to gain momentum and get the necessary clearance from the upper chamber. The bill, when passed into law, would allow foreign gaming companies to operate in the Netherlands by securing an iGaming license.
While debating the Remote Gaming Bill, the Senate also debated the Casino Reform Bill which sought to formally privatize Holland Casino, a land-based gaming monopoly.
During the deliberations, the senators were initially supportive of the bill. However, things quickly turned when the Senate asked Justice Minister Sander Dekker for the answers to three specific questions.
The Senate first asked for a clear cut definition of an “illegal operator” and would an illegal operator be allowed to apply for an iGaming license. The second question was regarding the measures that were to be undertaken to control online advertising especially in social media and its correlated legal implications. Finally, the Senate also asked about existing laws that would allow the government to effectively bar the domains of sites that did not acquire official licenses.
Dekker’s Brief Response
Minister Dekker had proposed that they allow and license as many operators as possible because the Netherlands had a growing online gambling market where players were turning to illegal sites to fulfil their needs. The licensing of more operators would help to boost the iGaming market in the Netherlands.
Dekker also stated that those tagged as illegal operators or those operators with sanctions were to be suspended indefinitely until further notice. He also stated that operators could be barred from renewing their license if it were proved that they deliberately attacked the Dutch market despite the regulation.
Dekker did not want any restrictions to be imposed on gambling ads at the start because players needed to be informed that the Netherlands now had legalized gambling operators offering their services. He was open to a set of limited restrictions being imposed but only at a later date.
The Justice Minister will be giving his detailed responses this Friday which will give the Senate enough time to think about them and make an informed decision as they are expected to cast their vote on Feb 12 as originally planned. Given the discussions and the debate that transpired, the proposed bill has a 50/50 chance of passing.