It was still somewhat uncertain, but the Senate has just approved the Distance Gambling Act (KOA). With this new gambling law, the Netherlands is finally getting a licensing system for gambling sites – one of the last countries in Europe.
Reliable online casinos will soon be able to apply for a license from the Gaming Authority and thereby legally offer gambling games such as roulette and blackjack, as well as sports betting, poker and bingo. Now, in the year 2019, that is still prohibited in the Netherlands.
For the past three weeks, the Senate has been considering the bill, which had already been passed by the Lower House in 2016. The Minister of Security and Justice, Sander Dekker (VVD), defended the law, but was unable to convince all groups in the Senate of the need to regulate online gambling. And that while an estimated one million Dutch people take a chance now and then. They are forced to do so on foreign gambling sites, which means they are not currently protected by Dutch law.
The mood was therefore quite exciting. Would the new gambling law, which should have been introduced in 2015, finally come through? The answer is: yes.
The following voted in favor: VVD, D66, PVV, PvdA and somewhat surprising GroenLinks. Spokesperson Tineke Strik from the latter party gave an explanation of vote in which she called the choice a "struggle", because with this law there is a risk that online gambling will be "normalized". At the same time, GroenLinks also finds the current situation unsatisfactory and that is why the group voted in favor. Strik did, however, appeal to the minister to see whether advertising for online gambling can be drastically curtailed or prohibited after the initial period.
In addition to the law itself, a number of motions were also voted on. The most important motion adopted is the Postema motion: only parties that have not actively focused on the Dutch market for a period of at least two years are eligible for a permit. In practice this amounts to one cooldownperiod, at least for companies that have already been fined by the Gaming Authority for illegal online gambling.
The following were also assumed:
- The Bikker motion about measures to prevent young people from becoming problem gamblers.
- Another Postema motion about blocking the internet sites of illegal providers of online gambling.
- The motion D. van Dijk in which the government is asked to consider a ban on advertising for (online) gambling, to map the consequences thereof and to inform the Chambers of this before 1 September 2019.
A motion for a general advertising ban and a motion for a cool-down period of five years failed.
First online casinos in 2020 or 2021
Now that the law has finally been passed, it will take a while before the first gambling sites with a Dutch license can start. First, all kinds of permit conditions have to be worked out (the so-called lower regulations). It will then take another six months from the moment a company applies for a permit to grant that permit. The first "Dutch" online casinos are expected to go live at the beginning of 2021. The national government itself says that this will already take place mid-2020, but it is still to be seen whether that target date will be met.
We have to wait and see which casinos that will be. That Holland Casino is going to receive a license for an online casino is certain in advance.
Mr. Casino is happy that this lingering political process – after years of struggling with sometimes moderately informed politicians – has finally been completed. Dutch online players will soon be protected by the law and can finally take a safe and fair bet without doing anything illegal.
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