Category Archives: Gaming licenses Netherlands

Remote Gambling Bill in the Netherlands

The Netherlands legal implementation of remote games of chance is progressing slowly. Especially for foreign providers of gambling games, business opportunities are on the horizon in the Netherlands now that the current market is dominated mainly by Dutch providers and the government considers competition in the current market to be desirable.

Dutch License online betting netherlands

Dutch licenses online betting under construction

In 2016, The Dutch House of Representatives adopted the bill on remote gambling. This legislation is currently pending in the Dutch Senate. The Netherlands Gaming Authority is preparing for the adoption of the Remote Gambling Act that will regulate online gambling In the Netherlands and provide a basis for the creation of a gambling licensing system, allowing Dutch players to take part in online gambling offerings in a safe and reliable environment.

Dutch gaming licensing slowly progressing

In the coalition agreement called “trust in the future”, the Dutch cabinet has subsequently included agreements that further strengthen the policy on online gambling. The following agreements are included:

  • When granting licenses for remote gambling, the license condition will be that the provider must in any way also be established in the Netherlands;
  • Attention will be paid to reducing gambling addiction when implementing the policy on gambling games, and;
  • Does the existing situation concerning the possibilities for the donation to sports and charities not be affected?

The Minister for Legal Protection announced this on behalf of the government halfway June 2018. Now that this part of the coalition agreement has been implemented, the legislative process can, according to the Minister, be resumed vigorously. It is therefore possible that the Senate will soon agree with the bill by means of the tightened Bill for Remote Gambling.

Netherlands registered office for gaming provider

According to the current jurisprudence of the Court of Justice of the European Union, it has been decided that providers without a branch within the EU a provider can only get a license if they have a branch in the Netherlands. As a foreign provider you will therefore have to set up a separate entity and establish it in the Netherlands. In addition, the presence in the Netherlands of a representative in the field of addiction prevention is required.

Prevention of gambling addiction

The government wants to pay attention to reducing and prevention of gambling addiction. The proposed measures are based on the so-called ‘stepped intervention model’. This means that the license holder provides the player with appropriate information and gives the player insight into his playing behavior. If a player exhibits risky gaming behavior, an appropriate intervention is carried out, such as offering a self-test or a personal meeting in which the player is redirected to professional help. As a last resort, the ‘Central Register Exclusion of Games of Chance’ will be introduced. Players who exhibit problematic gaming behavior or are addicted can be registered voluntarily or involuntarily in CRUKS.

The above obligations inevitably entail that the future provider of remote games of chance must actively collect data from there players. For the provider, therefore, a major challenge lies ahead in the careful processing of the extremely sensitive personal data of its players in line with the recently introduced European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Marketing restrictions on gaming

The current government believes it is important that new games of chance and the accompanying marketing should  not have a negative effect on vulnerable groups. It is therefore required that games of chance products be subject to a risk analysis for the prevention of addiction before they are offered. This also includes the effects on consumers of the intended recruitment and advertising activities for these products.

Betting rules for charity and sports

Finally, measures have been drawn up about charities and sports in the context of gambling. For example, to stimulate market developments, the government is reducing the compulsory payment for charities from 50% to 40%. The minister has indicated that charity organizations are supporting the new Remote Gaming Act. That’s a positive element because in the past these charities organizations were lobbying mostly against the new legislation. Hopefully, the new development will lead to a dynamic implementation of the new legislation.

Are you an international provider/operator of gambling and betting services? If you would like to know more about the latest developments regarding the implementation of the new bill on Remote Gambling, do not hesitate to contact Mark van Weeren on gaming licenses  in the Netherlands.

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Dutch gambling practice in violation with EU-law

Dutch Gaming Licenses

Dutch Gaming Lawyers have challenged  clients to enter the Dutch Market. Licenses for lotteries are still granted to Dutch Lotteries only. The Netherlands have not opened up the gaming market. The Bill for Online Gaming should comply with the goals of the European Treaty. It’s strange that online lotteries do not yet qualify for licenses, while all other forms of gambling such as casinos and sports betting are provided for in the draft bill on remote gambling. Read this update on the Dutch Gaming Licenses.

Dutch online gaming in violation with EU-law

At a European level, the uniform gambling policy has not been harmonized. In the absence of secondary legislation, the General Treaty provisions, The Treaty On The Functioning Of The European Union (TFEU) apply. According to settled case-law of the Court of Justice of the EU (ECJ), lotteries and other forms of gambling are regarded as services. So the rules on freedom to provide services are applicable

Freedom to provide Gaming Services in the Netherlands

Article 56 TFEU requires the removal of any restriction on the freedom to provide services which means that the activities of the provider established in another EU Member State and legally perform similar services are prohibited, even if this restriction applies without distinction to domestic Providers and providers from other Member states. EU Member States may make limitations. It must be examined on grounds of justification. The treaty gives the Member states discretionary power regarding the organization and regulation of gambling. Member States themselves decide how they want to protect their citizens against negatively impacts on remote gambling. However, this discretionary power is not absolute.

European Court on gaming law

The ECJ has set limits to the free movement of services in particular gambling. For example, a Member State may impose restrictions only if it pursues a legitimate objective for the public interest. These measures should be proportionate, and appropriate to achieve the stated goal and also necessary, which means that the Member State may not take more stringent measures than is necessary to achieve the objective.

Online gaming Draft

In the current draft bill which went through the Dutch Parliament, online lotteries are excluded, the question is whether this restriction is in accordance with European law and justified. According to the explanatory memorandum, there is no substantial demand for online variants of the classic lotteries, so according to the Dutch government, there is no need to regulate this option by law.  We do not believe this is sound reasoning by the Dutch Authority. Foreign Gaming Companies should apply for licenses to proof the contrary.

Fair restrictions on gaming and betting?

In the draft Bill, the Netherlands is briefly aiming at three general goals.

  • Fighting against fraud
  • Fighting gambling addiction
  • Consumer protection

The above goals constitute a legitimate reason for the primary purpose of the draft bill, the design and layout of the existing demand for a legal and safe offer of online gambling. But in addition to this objective, the draft bill also seems to pursue economic objectives. This is not usual, according to settled case-law on gaming law of the ECJ, financial advantage is no more than a mere favourable side effect of the measure.

Proportionality and necessity in Dutch gaming regulation

The exclusion of online lotteries in the draft bill is based on no or hardly any further assumption that there is no sufficient demand for online lotteries. See the Explanatory Memorandum; there is no known question for online variants of classic lotteries that require canalization. This is a remarkable passage, where a Member State chose to impede a certain freedom, the burden of proof of justification for this barrier is indeed on the Member State. The Netherlands must therefore demonstrate that there is no or not enough question from a consumers point of view. This requirement weighs heavier as it determines that the market is almost liberalized for online gambling except for online lotteries. The only motivation that the consumer demand for online lottery products is low is insufficient and relates to further explanation. On the other hand, current Dutch licensed lotteries offer online products. This proves there is a demand for online lotteries in the Netherlands market.

Flaw in Dutch Gaming Law

It’s strange that online lotteries do not yet qualify for licenses, while all other forms of gambling such as casinos and sports betting are provided in the draft bill on remote gambling. That is not consistent legislation. If the government continues to assume it’s position, then the following situation will occur. What actually happens is that the illegal offerings with regard to online lotteries are becoming more attractive to the consumer, something that the Dutch government is trying to prevent. The constraint, as it is now, is insufficient to achieve the stated goal, so not justified in the current form. So the current legislation and the draft Bill do not take care of the business. The exclusion of remote gaming games in the draft bill seems not only inappropriate but also not necessary to achieve the stated goals. Awarding a license for online lotteries to foreign providers is, after all, a less extensive restriction than the currently proposed exclusion.

Lotteries should apply for licenses with Dutch Gaming Authority

Mark van Weeren has suggested a test case to challenge the restricted trade practices the Netherlands. Please call Mark on our office number to discuss to legal challenge for a license on the Dutch Gaming Market. Despite the wide discretion of the Dutch state, the exclusion of online lotteries as now underlined is an unjustified barrier to the free movement of services ex art. 56 TFEU. Betting Companies an Lottery Business should apply for Dutch Lottery License to open up the market. The online bill is still not through the Dutch Senate. For online gaming consultation with the gaming Authority is possible. Please get in touch with me if you wish to discuss any of this.

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