The international regulations in regard to online gambling are subject to considerable complexity due to the fact every country has its own stance on the legality of interactive gaming. The Kingdom of Netherlands is not an exception, either, as the local government’s stance on online gaming is rather complicated and difficult to understand.
The Kingdom of Netherlands is a constitutional monarchy which has territories in both Western Europe and the Caribbean region. These territories include Curacao, Aruba, Sint Maarten, and the Netherlands, with the latter having the greatest say (of about 98%) in administering the affairs and legislation of the monarchy.
In some aspects, Dutch laws appear to be rather liberal, but this is hardly the case as far as interactive gaming for real money is concerned. As a matter of fact, the Dutch government has never been too keen when it comes to allowing offshore gambling providers to offer their services to players residing within the boundaries of the country.
Legal Landscape on Landbased Gambling in the Netherlands
The gambling industry in the country is, in fact, subject to state monopolization on behalf of the local Holland Casino Group. The latter operates since the 1970s when the first Dutch landbased casino in the country, the Zandvoort, opened doors. At the present moment, the Group has a permission to operate a total of 14 landbased casinos within the borders of the country.
Each of the 14 casinos is regulated and controlled by the Dutch government. Some of the branches of Holland Casino Group include gambling venues in Rotterdam, Groningen, Utrecht, Eindhoven, Breda, and Amsterdam, with the latter operating the biggest branch of the Group. The regulatory body that oversees the operations of these landbased casinos is called the Kansspelautoriteit or KSA.
The Netherlands’ Stance on Online Gambling
Online gambling on the territory of the Netherlands is considered legal as long as the casinos’ websites are hosted within the country. At the present moment, the local government has not granted licenses to any foreign gambling operators, allowing them to legally accept players from the country.
In fact, a good amount of efforts on behalf of Dutch authorities has been dedicated to preventing players from placing real-money bets at offshore gambling websites. In the past, the government has even attempted to block Dutch players from participating in remote gambling activities by drawing up a blacklist of interactive gaming websites to be blocked.
The Dutch authorities also attempted to corner local banking institutions into refusing to process payments to and from the blacklisted websites but these attempts proved to be futile. Legislators soon found out the internet is next to impossible to police and hundreds of interactive gambling websites continued to accept the registrations of Dutch players. What is more, some online gaming operators even support Dutch and have added it to their lists of available languages.
For the most part, the online gambling in the Netherlands remains a sector that is still not sufficiently developed. Discussions have started to introduce amendments to the current legislation in order to allow foreign online gambling operators to apply for local licenses, allowing them to offer their services and products to Dutch subjects.
After nearly two years of discussing the matter, the country’s Lower House approved the so-called Netherlands Online Gambling Bill in the summer of 2016. The approval came after representatives of the European Union put some pressure on Dutch authorities and reproved them for stalling the industry regulation and making the business conditions unclear for market entrants. This was not surprising, especially if one considers the fact the country’s regulatory body, the Kansspelautoritet, reported that as of 2015, over 100 European online casino operators have expressed their interest in obtaining local licenses to legally operate within the country.
The delays of the proposed legislation have been reportedly caused by disagreements in regard to the taxation that was to be levied on online gambling operators. This led to the suggested tax rates being increased from the 20% that were originally proposed to 29%, which would apply to both brick-and-mortar and online gambling providers. Presently, the government of the Netherlands is still working on the new remote gambling legislature’s draft. The proposed licensing system will be implemented as soon as the amendments to the legislation are officially enforced.
Gambling Regulatory Bodies Associated with the Netherlands
As was mentioned previously, there are several constituent countries which are part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and one of them is Curacao, which is a small island located in the Southern Caribbean Sea. This is the place the Curacao e-Gaming Licensing Authority operates from. This regulatory body was established over two decades ago, in 1996. This authority issues licenses which are applicable to sportsbooks and games of chance and skill. In order to obtain one such license, the companies are required to have their physical operating servers located outside the territory of the island of Curacao. At the same time, the online operators’ database on player information and financial transactions needs to be kept on computers that are physically situated in the Curacao e-zone.
Apart from issuing and managing the licenses, the Curacao e-Gaming Licensing Authority also deals with a range of services including hosting and IT infrastructure. The aforementioned Curacao e-zone attracts international online gambling operators because of the favorable, low tax rates.
The great thing about gaining the stamp of approval of the Curacao eGaming Licensing Authority is that there is no need to apply for separate licenses for the different types of online gambling activities. On the contrary, one license covers all forms of interactive gambling.
Another regulatory authority that is associated with the Kingdom of the Netherlands is the Curacao Internet Gambling Association, abbreviated as CIGA. Also established in 1996, this is an accredited regulatory body whose purpose is to ensure online gambling operators that are licensed within this jurisdiction stick to its stringent guidelines, regarding fair treatment of players and comply with the licensing requirements outlined by the Curacao e-Gaming Licensing Authority.
The CIGA works closely with web-based operators which specialize in all types of interactive gambling that involves placing real-money wagers, including virtual casino games, sportsbooks, games of chance and skill, and lotteries. Some of the requirements of the CIGA are for its members, i.e. Curacao-licensed online casinos, to enforce strict rules to prevent underage gambling activities, audit all customers’ financial transactions, prevent unfair advertisement practices, and accept financial responsibility by ensuring they have enough resources to pay out winning wagers.
That being said, it is also important to mention that players, who are permanently domiciled in the Netherlands are usually not accepted with real-money accounts at online casinos operating under licenses from Curacao.