Dutch Council of State: Unclear evidence means advertising ban unlikely before April

Dutch affiliates claim ‘concrete evidence’ of bet restrictions driving illegality

Three Dutch affiliate companies have penned a joint letter to the House of Representatives, requesting policymakers to reassess existing restrictions on certain bet types.

Paul de Bruin, Co-Founder of Oddsbeater; Michael Mertes, Founder of Betmanbegins; Jeffrey Noeken, Host of the Betstreet Boys podcast; and Frank Op de Woerd, Co-Founder and Head of Content at CasinoNews, laid out their case to the House of Representatives.

Specifically, the four affiliate leaders argue that the prohibition of popular betting markets such as over/under options, like the number of cards and corners in a match, pushes customers away from the legal and regulated offering.

“The government has a responsibility to protect citizens and prevent this problem,” the letter stated. “When the Dutch are even willing to bet with private individuals on betting markets that are prohibited under the Remote Gambling Act, it is a realistic assumption that many also go to illegal online bookmakers, the “Black Toto”, for this reason.”

As it stands, there are over 22 companies active in the Netherlands online wagering sector, with the market having grown at a rapid pace since re-regulation under the Remote Gaming Act (KOA Act) back in October 2021.

Under the KOA Act’s requirements, none of these 22 companies are able to offer stats betting markets, with the stated objective being to prevent match-fixing by removing a financial incentive for players to, say, deliberately commit a foul and receive a card.

However, in the viewpoint of the four affiliates’ viewpoint, a ‘substantial number’ of Dutch bettors are placing wagers on such markets via ‘the illegal circuit’, damaging the player protection objectives of the KOA Act.

A case in neighbouring Belgium was cited as evidence for this, with a Belgian man recently arrested for placing illegal bets for Dutch citizens without age verification or checking the CRUKS self-exclusion register, and taking a 10% commission.

The letter continued: “Now that there is concrete evidence that players are going to the illegal offer to bet on the prohibited betting markets, we would like to ask you to take the necessary steps to combat these illegal practices by reviewing the list of allowed and prohibited bets to keep well informed.”

Additionally, the affiliates argued that the aforementioned argument regarding match-fixing ‘is unfounded’, and that there are ‘countless ways to manage this risk’, such as allowing bets on cards and corners with only certain football-focused companies.

Clamping down on unlicensed firms targeting Dutch consumers has become a key focus of the Kansspelautoriteit (KSA), the national gambling regulator, in the year-and-a-half since the KOA Act was enforced.

For example, the first three months of 2023 alone have seen the regulator issue sanctions and fines against Shark77, Videoslots Limited, N1 Interactive Limited, Betpoint Group Limited, Probe Investments Limited and Fairload Limited – building on a series of similar enforcement actions last year.

In their letter to parliament, the affiliates argue that the lure of stats bets is proving too irresistible to Dutch bettors. However, given that Justice Minister Franc Weerwind is currently pushing forward a tightening of advertising restrictions, the likelihood of parliament to loosen rules on available betting markets is uncertain.

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