Dutch Minister states that online market is ‘larger than previously thought’

A recent letter to the Dutch House of Representatives has revealed two key updates on the current ‘state of affairs’ with regards to the Netherlands’ newly launched online gambling market.

Reviewing the letter sent to the country’s parliamentarians last week by Sander Dekker, Minister for Legal Protection, Rene Jansen, KSA Chairman, asserted that a key ‘preliminary’ conclusion is that ‘the size of the online market was and is larger than we previously thought’.

This has seen Dutch authorities revise the initial figure for the size of the online market in 2021 from a gross gaming revenue of €580 million to €814 million – a factor which Jansen believes demonstrates that the decision to legalise online wagering in the country was a ‘wise one’ which had not ‘come too soon’.

Should we be shocked that the online gambling market is dealing with more money than we previously thought? You can look at that differently,” Jansen stated.

“For me, it says above all that the political decision to legalise and regulate online gambling is a wise one and nothing has come too soon. The larger the market, the more reason to protect consumers well against the risks associated with games of chance.”

The Dutch Gambling Authority, the Kansspelautoriteit (KSA), was able to determine that gross gaming revenue for the Netherlands’ online operators was much higher than initially estimated due to finally being able to access official figures from licensed companies, having previously having to rely on indirect figures and estimates from commercial data suppliers.

Additionally, Jansen was also able to conclude that Dutch players are increasingly turning away from illegal operators and instead utilising the betting and gaming services of firms officially licensed in the Netherlands.

A total of 11 operators have been granted full licences to provide online betting and gaming services in the Netherlands – in September domestic firms Holland Casino, ToTo Online and FPO Netherlands were green-lit to begin operations along with international companies NSUS Limited, PlayNorth Limited, bet365, Tombola, LiveScore Group, VirginBet, BetEnt BV and Bingoal BV, whilst JOI Gaming Limited became the latest to join the marketplace.

Under the terms of the KOA Act a number of fines and enforcements have been implemented in order to disrupt the illegal online gambling market, whilst also conducting extensive monitoring of and investigations into a number of unlicensed companies, most recently penalising 13 affiliate advertisers for promoting illegal gambling services.

Issuing an update to legislators on progress with regards to collection of international fines, Minister Dekker revealed that the government has made a commitment to implementing a ‘tailor made solution’ due to current compliance with the Council of Europe’s 2005 Framework Decision covering financial sanctions and confiscation orders.

The current enforcement provisions, however, have led to a number of international operators to cease targeting Dutch consumers with online gaming products, including prominent companies such as Entain and Kindred. Last month the two firms detailed that compliance with the requirements of the KOA Act regime had resulted in an EBITDA hit of £5 million and €12 million respectively.

“The fact that many players switched from illegal to legal providers is good news,” Jansen continued. ”After all, the most important objective of the Remote Gambling Act is to channel players from illegal to legal offerings. 

“Legal providers can be supervised, so that players are assured of a fair game, correct payout and – above all – sufficient attention to addiction prevention.”

Despite making these two key conclusions about the current state of the Dutch online betting and gambling sector, Jansen maintained that ‘this is only the beginning’ for the market due to operations commencing just two months ago on 1 October. 

“There will be more licence holders and, partly because of this, it is too early to draw firm conclusions,” Jansen asserted.

Concluding the letter, Dekker detailed that his next update to the Dutch parliament on data relating to the gambling sector will occur in spring 2022, and confirmed that the first evaluation of the KOA Act will commence in three years time.

He further explained that protection of vulnerable people ‘remains a priority’ and the existing legislation offers scope for adjustment of rules in order to achieve this goal, should interim data suggest that such amendments are necessary.

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