Countries around the world are grappling with the best way to handle the world of online gambling, but the Netherlands appears to be having more problems than most.
Perhaps surprisingly for a nation known for its liberal attitude in certain areas, the Netherlands has been very slow to catch up to the rest of the world in legalising gambling.
Betting is legal in the Netherlands, but only companies with a local license are able to operate freely, while gambling is restricted tightly to games of chance only. With the country restricting the granting of licenses to local betting firms, the sector is unusual.
The attitude towards gambling taken by the Netherlands government has been similar to the recent changes in Australia, where it was announced last year that only companies with a local license will be able to run gambling websites legally.
That was widely assumed to be a backwards step, but at least the Netherlands has shown it intends to make progress in this industry over the coming years.
What is the current law regarding gambling in the Netherlands?
Netherlands-based companies can run casino websites and sports betting sites in the country as long as they have a license.
However, firms based outside the country are barred from doing so, which means that European giants such as William Hill and Betfair are effectively locked out of operating.
This is only the start of how strange the gambling laws are in the Netherlands, though. No advertising of betting firms – whether it is through radio, television or print media – is allowed. This is in stark contrast with the UK, as an example, where television broadcasting of high level sports is dominated by advertising and sponsorships for a range of gambling companies.
Gambling in the Netherlands has long been governed by the Games of Chance Act – known as Wet op de Kansspelen in the local language – but the law is no longer fit for purpose.
The rapid rise of the internet, coupled with the stunning growth of smartphone technology, means people now have the capability to place a bet or have a game of poker with a device that fits in the palm of their hand.
While the laws in the Netherlands prohibit companies from running poker rooms and other online gambling games, this does not mean it does not happen. There are countless sites offering these services to Dutch people, with the government unable to stop them.
Dutch Parliament considering changes to online gambling news
The good news is that changes to the outdated Netherlands gambling regulations are on the way, with the Dutch Parliament currently considering whether or not to pass a new bill.
Online gambling on sports, casino games and poker games is all covered by the proposed legislation, meaning individuals in the country will no longer be restricted to games of chances.
Restrictions will still be in place, though, with companies wishing to operate in the online gambling in the Netherlands still needing to apply for a local license to do so. Guidance issued by the Dutch Gaming Authority offers further insight into what firms will have to do.
“The applicant must comply with certain requirements, such as informing on dangers of gambling addiction, requesting player identification and implementing transparency provisions to counter money laundering,” said the body, which will grand licenses for a period of five years.
Dutch online gambling will likely see significant growth as a result. If you want know more about playing at online casinos from the Netherlands, the best are listed here – good luck!
Why has it taken so long to update gambling legislation?
Progress with the legislation was affected by the 2017 Dutch general election, which did not have a clear result and required lengthy negotiations before a coalition could be formed. The Remote Gaming Bill, which has been in the pipeline since 2013, is now with the Senate.
Legislation is expected to be passed at some point in the near future, but for now gambling companies wishing to operate in the Netherlands remain somewhat in a state of flux.
It is particularly odd that the Netherlands has what appears to be very restrictive gambling legislation as the country is regarded as one of the most liberal in the whole of Europe. The use of drugs such as marijuana is legal in the country, which also allows prostitution too.
The freedom to legally take drugs in coffee shops and pay for sex has attracted a lot of people to visit the Netherlands over the years and it seems perverse that people living in the country are not able to partake in a game of poker played via the internet legally at the present time.
What will happen next for gambling legislation in the Netherlands?
Generally speaking, once gambling laws have been relaxed in any country in the world, this often paves the way to further changes being made to the regulations in the future.
Australia of course is the exception here, with the country taking measures to restrict foreign operators from being able to run online gambling websites in the country.
While it has taken a long time for the proposed changes to Dutch gambling laws to even get this far – and remember they have not been passed yet, although an introduction at the beginning of 2019 has been suggested – it seems likely that more updates will follow.
The Dutch government will see a large rise in revenues as a result of the levies placed on gambling companies, with this money providing a boost to the state’s finances. The last report from the Netherlands Gaming Authority, published in 2015, showed the gross gaming revenue of the legal gaming industry stood at two billion euros, a figure that is ready to grow fast.
Once that money is being collected it is hard to turn down in the future and the government may elect to relax laws further to allow it to take in even more in revenues from the gambling sector.