Netherlands: text of the Dutch online gambling bill published earlier than expected


On Wednesday (5 March), the 171 page-long text of the proposed Dutch Remote Gambling Act has been notified to the European Commission. This is a sign that the Dutch government is speeding up the process, since the text of the bill was expected after submission to the House of Representatives.

Content of the bill

In short, the gambling policy objectives are (i) prevention of gambling addiction, (ii) protection of consumers, and (iii) counteracting illegal behaviors and crime.

The main content consists of several enforcement measures that would give the regulator powers through court order to block payments and unlicensed websites and entails requirements were gambling operators are concerned. Furthermore, the bill contains a tax rate of 29% for land based providers and 20% for remote providers.

Point by point, the main principles are as follows.

Requirements imposed on gambling operators:

  • must be company with legal personality and registered in an EU or EEA Member State;
  • operators must store copies of the data in a control database to be installed in the Netherlands;
  • operators shall be required to pay a license fee (Article 31f) and gaming tax (Articles 33e and 33f);
  • operators may be required to make payments to charitable organizations (Article 31g);
  • operators must identify the players, monitor their gaming behavior and intervene where necessary (in as far the most risk-prone categories of gambles are concerned);
  • where appropriate, they must report a player with problematic gaming behavior to the gaming authority for involuntary exclusion from participation in such games;
  • operators may be required to record and provide information (Article 34k) and must give the supervisory bodies direct access to the electronic means used by them to organize the gambles (Article 34l);
  • operators may be required to provide financial collateral for any administrative sanctions that may be imposed (Article 35d).

Measures to strengthen the enforcement of gambling legislation:

  • supplying the means for organizing illegal games, including poker, is prohibited (Article 1);
  • the Games of Chance Authority may issue binding instructions to operators to enforce compliance with the gambling legislation (Article 34n);
  • the Games of Chance Authority shall also be authorized to place company premises and objects under seal (Article 34d), to enter residences (Articles 34e-34h) and to seize goods (Article 34i).

What’s next

The draft could still change: it is just the starting point of the legislative process in the Netherlands. After the three-month standstill at the EU commission has passed, the bill will be submitted to the House of Representatives for discussion after advice from the Council of State. Practice shows that the opinion of the Council of State is often followed and incorporated into the bill. Subsequently, it will be further debated in the Senate. The expectation is that the Act will enter into effect on 1 January 2015.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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