Current status of the Dutch gambling laws

We get quite a few questions from players about the current situation on online gambling in the Netherlands. Even friends and colleagues from other countries wonder why the Netherlands is taking so long in making a new law to replace the current Gambling Act that dates all the way back to 1964.

Officially this act is still active and it prohibits gambling (both offline and online) unless you do it with the licensed Dutch monopoly parties such as Jack’s casino, Holland Casino, the state lottery and the Toto (sports betting). But ever since online gambling started to gain in popularity, the Dutch also started to play more and more at online casinos that accept customers from other countries. Yes, the Dutch are just the same as the rest of the world where it comes to gambling. In theory this kind of activity is illegal according to the old but still active Gambling Act. In practice, however, time has caught up with this law and the simple fact is that online casinos provide a need, are more fun and have more benefits. This Gambling Act is therefore highly outdated and needs to be renewed. We at expect this new regulation and legalization of online gambling in 2019 at its earliest. Big names like Betsson, however, expect that the new Gambling Act won’t pass sooner than 2022 at the earliest.

the Dutch are tolerant but not with online gambling

Dutch tolerance and online gambling

Now you may wonder why the Netherlands, known for its tolerance towards many things, like soft drugs, sexual preference and religion, has such a hard time in passing a new Gambling Act. This has everything to do with the political landscape and the lack of knowledge (a party even proposed a law for IP blocking) where it comes to online gambling under Dutch politicians. In addition the Dutch political parties are still working on a new government since the elections in March 2017. Because there are many political parties, it is difficult to form a new government. An average of 5 parties are negotiating with each other and there is a good change of reelections after the summer.

In July 2016 the Dutch Lower House agreed to a bill to regulate gambling via the internet, with the aim of reducing illegality. But before this law can come into force, the Upper House must approve this legislation too. Until then, gambling sites can not apply for a license and are not allowed to target the Dutch market. The Netherlands is well behind in comparison to other European countries where the market is legalized or the rules for online gambling are more flexible.

Despite the fact that the Dutch Chancellor Authority (KSA) has been busy chasing gambling site that target Dutch players, there were still quite a lot of gambling sites that accepted Dutch players. Gambling sites with a Dutch domain got a notice with a warning and possible fine. Some gambling sites changed domain extension and translated all content.

Stricter policy imposed by the Chancellor Authority

The Chancellor Authority (KSA) has recently (June 2017) sharpened the rules for online gambling sites. The supervisor has been up against websites that use Dutch elements in their games, such as windmills and clogs. Several casinos have therefore made additional adaptation or have thrown in the towel.

The Chancellor Authority now also checks the following points, among other things, to judge whether a website is targeting Dutch players:

  • The URL of the website ends with ‘.nl’ or contains Dutch terms, such as Amsterdams casino, Polder casino and Klompenbingo.
  • The website shows typical Dutch elements like clogs or windmills.
  • The website is (partly) written in Dutch.
  • No geoblocking active on the website.
  • The website uses Dutch online media to advertise its illegal online gambling offers.
  • The website offers a typical Dutch payment method, such as iDeal.

Furthermore, the Chancellor Authority will conduct research into providers accepting minors which, in our opinion, is a very good thing.

Many online casinos are obviously not happy with the new rules of the Chancellor Authority. The industry association of online gaming providers told a Dutch paper that the decision was taken without consulting the industry in any way. In addition, the new rules are not in the interests of Dutch players. The Chancellor Authority is ineffective in addressing foreign online gambling players and although it may impose fines, it will not be possible to collect them because there are no international treaties that will allow this. The Dutch gambling legislation is therefore not in accordance with European legislation. Nevertheless may foreign gambling sites seem to tread cautiously and don’t want to risk their sight on a possible license for the Dutch market. Some foreign sites don’t allow Dutch players anymore or remove the option to pay with Ideal which is the preferred method of online payment in the Netherlands. Fortunately there are of course numerous online payment alternatives.

The Dutch are European citizens

As far as we are concerned at, the Dutch are European citizens and have their own responsibility where it comes to online gambling. Fact is that the current Dutch Gambling Act is totally outdated and is preventing the professional and trustworthy online casinos to provide in a need every Dutch citizen has a right to. As long as the new Act is not in place it is difficult for Dutch players to separate the trustworthy casinos form the rogue ones. The Dutch are also good in finding ways to dodge the current laws and online gambling continues to grow in the Netherlands. The Dutch government just shows that there can be a small line between tolerance and indecision.