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Dutch Online Gaming

In May 2013, the Dutch government proposed changes to its online gaming laws that would open up the market to foreign operators.

If adopted, the Remote Betting and Gaming Bill would allow foreign operators access to the Netherlands if they obtain a Dutch license. The new Dutch licenses will include strict rules for operators to follow to protect consumers and address problem gambling.

Online gaming providers would also have to pay a 20% tax on gross gaming revenue. The legislation would also privatize Holland Casino.

If implemented, the legislation would be a marked departure from the recent history of online gaming in the Netherlands.

The projected timeline for licensing for remote operators to begin is mid-2016. In January 2015, the Dutch Gaming Authority, Kansspelautoriteit, signed a letter of intent with the Alderney Gambling Control Commission in anticipation of building a working relationship ahead of the expected approval of online gambling legislation in the Netherlands.

Like many European Internet gambling models, the Netherlands does not currently allow its citizens to gamble online through foreign operators.

The operator De Lotto maintains a long-standing license for online gaming in the Netherlands. After foreign Internet gaming operators raised challenges that De Lotto violated European Union (EU) agreements requiring open access to the national market, in February 2005 the Dutch Supreme Court upheld De Lotto's status as the only operator that may accept online wagers placed from the Netherlands. The Supreme Court ruling reversed an earlier 2004 ruling of the Arnhem court determining that the national license laws contradict (EU) case law.

In September 2006, the Dutch Supreme Court approved a measure allowing the Holland Casino, a government-owned, land-based casino operator, to offer Internet casino gaming as an extension of its land-based services. Holland Casino was restricted to offering traditional casino games to residents of Holland.

In 2007, De Lotto and Holland Casino were under investigation by the (EU) for holding a monopoly on the online gaming market in the Netherlands. In February 2008, the European Commission issued a final warning before court action would be taken over the Netherlands' gambling market restrictions.

Holland Casino's online casino is no longer operational. In 2008, the Senate voted against an amendment which would have allowed Holland Casino to operate online gambling on a three-year experimental basis. The Dutch parliament also did not pass a vote on a new bill that proposed to regulate limited Internet gambling.

In 2010, U.K.-licensed operators Betfair and Ladbrokes challenged the Dutch online gaming ban. The European Court of Justice ruled against them, stating that countries are allowed to prohibit online gambling if the main reason is to combat fraud and crime.

In 2011, the Dutch began pursuing the possibility of a more liberal online gaming legislative framework. The State Secretary of Security and Justice said current laws were being ignored by Dutch citizens and a new law would allow more oversight. It was also noted that the licensing system for lotteries in the Netherlands should be more transparent and that casino operator Holland Casino should be reviewed. The auctioning of online gaming and lottery licenses could generate at least EUR 10 million (USD 14.1 million) annually.

In February 2012, the Netherlands Supreme Court ruled that a nationwide ban of online gambling "is not contrary to European law on free movement of services." Online poker remained illegal and additional steps to block online operators from offering their services to the Dutch were put in place, including directing banks to block financial transactions related to online gaming. The blocking of transactions was done on a voluntary basis and not enforced by the government.

In June 2012, Kansspelautoriteit issued enforcement warnings to 40 operators that they believed were illegally offering online gaming to the Netherlands. The warning said those operators that failed to comply would be excluded from the new regulatory system. Approximately half the operators took steps to comply.
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