‘We will probably issue about 90 licences in future’

This statement was made by Amida Michael, Programme Manager for Remote Gambling at the NGA. Her appointment is intended to streamline the implementation of the Remote Gambling Act (Wet kansspelen op afstand). A key sub-project involves designing the licensing procedure. Providers need to comply with a range of criteria in order to be eligible for a licence.

The estimated number is based on the registration of interested parties between 5 and 21 June as well as Michael's experiences abroad, including in Sweden. Michael: ‘We received more than 180 registrations in total. This figure can be divided into three more or less equal parts. One third already has experience in offering online games of chance, because they presently hold a licence abroad, for instance. Another third currently offers physical games of chance in the Netherlands, combined with some online experience abroad. The final third or so consists of small enterprises and self-employed people. Our expectation is that most of the latter group will not be able to comply with the stringent licence conditions. In our opinion, the Dutch situation is comparable to Sweden, where around 160 companies showed an initial interest in obtaining a licence and about 90 licences were ultimately issued.’

The exact conditions are not yet known. Could you paint them in broad strokes?

Michael: ‘The requirements will be strict. Games of chance are a high-risk product. All applicants will undergo an integrity assessment pursuant to the Public Administration (Probity Screening) Act (Wet bevordering integriteitsbeoordelingen door het openbaar bestuur). These assessments will investigate the previous history of applicants and their business partners. Financial requirements are part of the screening as well. The costs of a remote gambling licence application will be around 45,000 euros. This sum will not be reimbursed to applicants, even if they do not obtain a licence. They also need to provide a guarantee to safeguard the payment of any fines, to the tune of 830,000 euros based on current expectations. Conditions are also imposed on business operations. Examples include arrangements for addiction prevention, separation of player credit balances from other monies, player identification, quality assurance and integrity policy. As regards digital requirements, a Control Database and a Central Exclusion Register will be created, which companies need to join if they are issued a licence. In sum, the conditions imposed by the Act are severe.’ (also see Set-up of Remote Gambling application)

What will the remainder of the procedure look like?

‘We are currently designing the process. This means we are still finalising the application requirements, among other things, which depend in part on the subordinate legislation by the Ministry. We will present the application form for consultation once the subordinate legislation has been published. Our plan is to do so by the end of September 2019. We aim to have provided the market with comprehensive information no later than four months before parties can apply for a licence. This means we need to be ready by 1 March 2020. After all, according to the planning, the organisation should be fully operational on 1 July 2020, so it can receive and process the licence applications smoothly. This will allow the market to open on 1 January 2021. However, I cannot fully commit myself to this planning, as we can only start processing licence applications after the Act has formally come into force.’