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New Regulator But Familiar Policies Expected In Holland

October 5, 2008 2008

According to new legislation promulgated last week, the task of issuing gaming and betting permits and enforcing compliance will soon fall outside of the Ministry of Justice. However, while the Act is not without significance, observers suggest that Dutch policy on gambling will remain substantively the same.

The Betting and Gaming Act, sent out for consultation by Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin last Thursday, proposes the establishment of an independent regulatory body, the Betting and Gaming Authority, which will be charged with issuing licences and acting in the event of any licence breaches. Once the new legislation comes into force, the Netherlands Gaming Control Board, which currently advises the Minister who then issues licences accordingly, will cease to exist. The Ministry of Finance will continue to oversee the National Lottery (Staatsloterij) and the activities of Holland Casinos.

According to Justin Franssen, partner at Amsterdam-based law firm Van Mens and Wisselink, the administrative change is an interesting development. “The new Act signifies a change from the current system in that there will be a new entity which establishes a clear distinction between the Minister and the licences [that are issued],” he told Gamblingcompliance.com.

However, Franssen agrees with those who argue that the new Act heralds more of a perpetuation of the Dutch Government’s restrictive policy on gambling than a signal of impending change. Although the current licensing system has been subject to criticism from both the European Commission and, most recently, the Dutch Council of State, some observers believe the new law will do little more than update the 1964 Act.

For example, Gamblingcompliance.com understands that there is nothing in the Act to suggest that existing lottery and sports betting permits will be opened to tender once they expire. On the contrary,accompanying explanatory notes suggest that the current licensing system will be maintained as far as is possible. “The new system will be largely the same as the old one. The Act contains no radical changes,” Franssen says.

Whilst it may be a different regulator that oversees the Dutch market and issues or renews licences, the Ministry of Justice will maintain ultimate responsibility for instigating overall gambling policy. A press release from the Ministry read: “The new Betting and Gaming Act will make it possible to annul decisions by the Authority when they pose considerable risks to the restrictive games-of-chance policy in the Netherlands.”

This article is written by James Kilsby and was published on 07/08/2007 on www.gamblingcompliance.com.


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