Dutch Regulator Approves First Ten Online Gaming Licenses

Dutch gaming regulator the KSA has finally approved the country’s first online gaming licenses, with the market set to lauch on October 1. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Regulator signs off on ten

Lawmakers in the Netherlands officially legalized online sports betting and iGaming by passing the Remote Gambling Act earlier this year. Now, the Dutch gaming regulator, otherwise known as De Kansspelautoriteit (KSA), has made history by approving the market’s first licenses.

as of 1 October they are allowed to provide gambling services on the internet”

KSA chair René Jansen confirmed the successful applications during a speech on Monday this week. “Tomorrow, ten license applicants will be informed that their applications were successful, meaning that as of 1 October they are allowed to provide gambling services on the internet,” he commented. Despite providing the news, Jansen said the KSA can not yet release information on who those licensees are.

Notably, the KSA has received a total of 29 license applications to date, meaning just over one third of them have had success. However, Jansen has made clear that the regulator intends to proceed with a phased opening of the market, meaning other applications are still pending. The KSA expects more applicants before April 2022.

High requirements for licensees

Speaking with current affairs TV program Nieuwsuur on Monday, KSA chair Jansen noted the stringent demands that the regulator is placing on its applicants. “High requirements are imposed on a license, including in the fields of addiction prevention and consumer protections, and the KSA tests rigorously,” he stated.

Some have blamed these strict demands for the low number of applicants in comparison with the KSA’s March projections. The regulator predicted that a total of 35 operators would apply for licenses in the initial process. The actual total of 29 represents a 17% drop from this estimation. Even more significantly, this corresponds to a 77% drop from the number of expressions of interest submitted in October last year.

Despite this, the KSA is steadfast in its expectations from licensees. “The bar is set high and we assess all elements of the license applications very seriously,” Jansen affirmed on Monday. He said the KSA “encountered a substantial number of flaws” in license applications, and urged others to “be very well prepared” if hoping to receive the green light.

Although Jansen has so far refused to name any successful applicants, media reports have suggested that Betsson, Entain, Kindred Group, and 888 Holdings are all hoping to secure a Dutch license.

Unlicensed operators must exit

While the legalization of sports betting and iGaming is good news for those hoping to enter the market, unlicensed operators face hefty penalties if they continue to cater to Dutch gamblers. On Monday, the KSA announced it will take action against any unlicensed firms that do not leave by November 1. They must stop accepting new customers on October 1.

could face KSA fines totalling as much as €600,000 ($702,705)

This will affect a number of companies that currently offer their services to Dutch customers, namely PokerStars, Unibet, and Bwin. If they choose to remain, they could face KSA fines totalling as much as €600,000 ($702,705). Meanwhile, if their annual turnover exceeds €15m ($17.6m), the KSA will fine them 4% of this amount.

Unlicensed operators such as these will have to leave the market for at least six months before they can rejoin. They can then apply for a license through the KSA.

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