Operators Halt Services as Dutch Gambling Market Opens

October 6, 2021

Netherlands Gambling Industry

The 1st of October 2021 marks the official launch of legal online gambling in The Netherlands, one of Europe’s most liberal countries. Approximately 9 months after the predicted opening, Dutch players can safely enjoy games of chance on Dutch-licensed casinos. The Remote Gambling Act also allows for the practice of sports betting and, to date, Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) has issued 10 operators with licenses.

Initially, the expectation was that the Remote Gambling Act would come into effect on 1 July 2020 however, disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic delayed this until 1 April 2021. At that point, online gambling providers could start their application process for a license to trade in the country. The regulator received 29 applications and said that they hope to receive more submissions in the coming months.

While anticipating the opening of its legal online gambling market, KSA signed an advertising protocol agreement with the country’s media watchdog. The agreement focuses on the assessment of advertising for games of chance. In another announcement on 20 September, the inspectorate introduced new regulatory protocols that sparked concern from potential applicants and caused some to block Dutch players altogether.

Kindred Steps Aside to Mitigate Risks

One day before the Dutch market opened to licensed online casinos, Kindred Group announced it will temporarily withdraw its services from The Netherlands. This announcement follows an announcement from Sander Dekker, Dutch Minister for Legal Protection, that certain terms of the country’s regulatory protocols will change.

According to Kindred, they seek more clarity on the details of the changes prior to moving ahead with their license application to KSA.

The online gambling operator estimates they stand to lose £12 million per month in EBITDA turnover. Henrik Tjärnström, CEO of Kindred Group, commented that their decision stems from the fact that the group intends to be a sustainable operator in the Dutch market.

Kindred is currently waiting out a regulatory cooling-off period required from any unlicensed operator who targeted players in the Netherlands. The Unibet operator may continue with its application submission once the cooling-off period expires on 1 November.

Tjärnström says that they have been following through with the process for the past 18 months and they have passed all the audits for the application.

Betsson and LeoVegas Halt Services

Following the announcement from Kansspelautoriteit of new regulatory details to the Remote Gambling Act, both LeoVegas and Betsson withdrew from The Netherlands.

As of 30 September, LeoVegas would not provide any services to Dutch players and the online gambling platform states it will apply for a Dutch license later this year. The provider has an expansion strategy whereby it aims to grow in locally regulated markets and they put various measures in place to ensure compliance with the Dutch prioritisation criteria.

According to the provider’s quarterly results, the Dutch market accounts for a low-to-mid share of its revenue.

The Remote Gambling Act stipulates that operators who offer services to players in The Netherlands, even though they do not specifically target them, should cease operations in the country. Based on this, Betsson blocked Dutch players for the time being to receive more favourable treatment when they apply for a Dutch license. The company predicts a loss estimate of SEK 25 million on a monthly basis.

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