Home » 2008 » Currently Reading:

Dutch Lawmakers KO Remote Gambling Bill

October 5, 2008 2008

The Dutch Senate yesterday voted down proposals that would have granted the state-run operator Holland Casinos a three-year exclusive license to operate internet gaming in the Netherlands. The proposal was rejected by a narrow margin, but the outcome nevertheless sparked celebration among private gambling operators.

Under existing rules no operator is licensed to offer casino and poker online in Holland, despite the presence of many dozens of foreign companies doing just that. The proposal – contained within the remote gambling bill – to give online exclusivity to Holland Casinos, consequently raised the prospect of a well-advertised and state-run operator quickly building market share in the fashion of Svenska Spel in Sweden.

The bill, put forward by the Dutch Ministry of Justice, was defeated yesterday afternoon by the slim margin of 35 votes to 37. Lobbyist Justin Franssen of the Dutch law firm Van Mens & Wisselink, said it was, “a very good day for our industry”.

He noted that in some ways it signalled the return of business as usual in Holland but also observed, “the important point is that there can now be no new powerful competitor in the online market in Holland, and that is good for all operators who have a market in the Netherlands.”

The vote against the bill was the result of a sustained lobbying effort by Franssen’s firm. “We worked very hard the last months to convince the individual senators that the Remote Gaming Act does not comply with European law,” he said.

“For some senators the deciding factor was the European argument, for others I think it was that the bill represented a new gaming offering that was going to stimulate gaming in a way that was not compatible with their restrictive market policy.”

The vote represents a setback for Holland Casinos, which had already prepared an online poker and casino operation for launch.

Holland Casinos vice president Ron Goudsmit told GamblingCompliance: “We were sure we would have done well online, but what this vote means is that all the illegal offerings we have now will continue”

The situation whereby no company is licensed to operate online has created a situation in which many major European online companies are operating Dutch language sites. “There have been some measures taken against them but there are still an enormous number of sites, more than 100, offering their services into Holland” confirmed Goudsmit.

According to Goudsmit, yesterday’s Senate vote hinged on unpredictable party allegiances.

“Only one party was going to make a difference in the vote and that was the Green Party. They had voted in favour of the bill in the Lower House but surprisingly they didn’t follow that in the Upper House,” he said.

One block voting steadfastly against the measure was the Dutch Liberal Party, which objects to monopolies of any sort, but Goudsmit noted that Holland Casinos itself had raised the possibility of additional licences and had proposed that VAN, the Dutch Gaming Machine Association, also be granted a license.

“It’s not us that has been fighting for a single licence but the Ministry of Justice who themselves thought it would be better to put their case to Brussels if Holland Casinos were granted a sole license for the trial period.”

Observers from the private sector have speculated over whether an arrangement that existed between Holland Casinos and software firm Cryptologic to share revenues from their online venture might have also swayed the Senate vote. Questions had been previously asked about the deal in the Lower House, but not at Senate level.

“There was a question from an MP which the Minister of Justice answered,” counters Goudsmit. “But while there is a contract between us and Cryptologic, it is a commercial agreement with a confidentiality clause applying to it.”

With one issue now decided, the next stage of the battle between private operators and the Dutch Government shifts to the even more contentious issue of financial services and ISP blocking.

The Dutch Ministry of Justice last month indicated that it intended to take action against online gambling operators listed by the ministry and against intermediaries, such as payment service providers and ISPs, that facilitate the activities of the operators.

With Holland currently facing infringement proceedings issued by the European Commission against the Dutch sports betting monopoly, the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) this week wrote to the Dutch Minister of Justice Dr Hirsch Ballin urging a change of direction.

“The position of the Dutch authorities is not sustainable or EU compatible and the EGBA therefore takes a clear stance against the enforcement of financial and ISP blockings directed at EU licensed operators. The EGBA believes that private companies (in this case financial and/or internet service providers) should not be made into the enforcers of ineffective government legislation,” said the letter signed by EGBA Secretary General Sigrid Ligné.

© Gambling Compliance Ltd 2006

The author of this article is Andrew Gellatly. It was published on 02/04/2008 on GamblingCompliance.com (http://www.gamblingcompliance.com)


Posted by:

Legal Gaming in Europe Summit 2013 – Summary Day 1

Legal Gaming in Europe Summit 2013 Day 1 Summary Video

Video: International Gaming Law Summit 2011 Highlights

International Gaming Law Summit 2011 Highlights Video

Copyright: http://www.calvinayre.com

To get the latest news follow us on