Online gambling licence? Only after two years of not offering games of chance aimed specifically at the Netherlands
Which applicants are eligible for an online gambling licence? Only those applicants are eligible which have at any rate refrained from specifically targeting Dutch consumers with online games of chance in the two years prior to the submission date. This criterion was stated in the draft policy rule that the Netherlands Gambling Authority (NGA) published today (Tuesday, 9 July 2019).
The publication of the draft policy rule by the NGA provides potential licence applicants with an initial outlook on the contents of the integrity assessment. In this context, the NGA takes account of the 'Postema motion', which was adopted by the Upper House of Parliament on 19 February 2019 during discussion of the Remote Gambling Act (Wet kansspelen op afstand). This Act legalises online gambling subject to stringent conditions.
The draft policy rule will be incorporated into a broader policy rule on integrity assessment of applicants. This comprehensive rule will be definitively adopted at a later stage. Moreover, applicants will face an assessment pursuant to the Public Administration (Probity Screening) Act (Wet bevordering integriteitsbeoordelingen door het openbaar bestuur). Any applications for an online gambling licence must also comply with further requirements. Apart from integrity, the new Act imposes additional conditions in terms of addiction prevention, finances and business operations, for example (also see Programme Manager for Remote Gambling Amida Michael: ‘We will probably issue about 90 licences in future’).
In response to the Postema motion, the draft policy rule states that an application for an online gambling licence will be assessed on a number of criteria:
- Did the provider have a website with the .nl extension?
- Did the provider use the Dutch language?
- Did the provider employ means of payment that are exclusively or predominantly used by Dutch consumers?
- Did the provider use advertising aimed at the Dutch market on the radio, on television or in print media?
- Did the provider own one or more domain names that combine references to games of chance with terms that typically pertain to the Netherlands?
- Did the website(s) on which the games of chance were offered contain one or more characteristics that suggest that they were targeting the Netherlands?
Providers will be ineligible for a licence if one or more of these criteria apply. The NGA will consider the two years prior to the submission date. For example, if a company were to apply for a licence on 15 August 2020, having offered online games of chance specifically aimed at the Dutch market since 15 August 2018 would make that company ineligible.
The draft policy rule has a temporary validity until 1 July 2021, at which date it will lapse. Realising a safe, controlled offer of online games of chance is a key objective of the Remote Gambling Act. This offer will not materialise if providers that violated the law in the past are not shown some leniency. The way to achieve this offer is through temporary leniency, which is curtailed by the criteria mentioned above. After this period, a lax interpretation of the rules will no longer be required. This approach aligns with the NGA's existing policy to prioritise tackling parties that target Dutch consumers.
Design of the licensing procedure
The Netherlands Gambling Authority is in the process of setting up the licensing procedure. The Ministry of Justice and Security is currently drafting the subordinate legislation related to the Remote Gambling Act. The draft policy rule in response to the Postema motion dovetails with this process. As soon as the subordinate legislation has been finalised, the NGA will be able to draft the definitive licence conditions. The NGA expects that it will be possible to submit licence applications from 1 July 2020, with the online gambling market opening on 1 January 2021.