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Online Gaming in Netherlands

Authored by - Kalff Katz & Franssen (Last updated Feb 2024)

Overview

Open

Netherlands Online Gaming Overview

Regulated
After more than a decade of slow regulatory changes, the Netherlands Gambling Authority (NGA) is finally able to award licences for remote games of chance as of 1 April 2021. The very first licences were awarded at the end of September 2021, and as of January 2023, a total of twenty-four remote gambling licences have been awarded.

The NGA is the national gambling regulator and therefore responsible for the issuing of licenses, supervision, and enforcement.

In terms of a brief history lesson, on 19 February 2019, the Senate passed the Remote Gambling Act 2019 (“Wet kansspelen op afstand 2019, RGA”), which amended the Betting and Gaming Act (“Wet op de kansspelen, BGA”) and the Betting and Gaming Tax Act (“Wet op de kansspelbelasting, BGTA”), so as to enable the introduction of the licensing and regulatory regime.

The BGA has always, and continues to, embody a ‘prohibited unless licensed’ approach. It is largely prohibited to offer games of chance without a licence (subject to some minor exceptions). Until the licensing and regulatory regime for remote gambling entered into force in April 2021, the NGA was not able to award licences for remote gambling and all such offerings which were available in the Netherlands were considered unlawful. Games which do not satisfy the definition of a game of chance fall outside the scope of the BGA. The definition of a game of chance has not been amended by the introduction of licensing for remote gambling.

Under the new licensing regime, only a single licence type is available. This single licence type will cover up to four types of gambling, namely:

  1. Casino games in which the players play against the licence holder (e.g., blackjack)
  2. Casino games in which the players play against one another (e.g., poker)
  3. Bets on events occurring during a sporting contest or on the outcome of a sporting contest
  4. Bets on the outcome of horse racing and harness racing

Market Size
According to the NGA’s autumn 2023 monitoring report (Monitoringsrapportage online kansspelen najaar 2023), published at a time when there were 25 remote gambling licences, of which six were dormant, the NGA established that GGR for the period August 2022 – July 2023 was EUR1.33bn7By far the largest market segment were casino games played against the house, followed by sports-betting; in July 2023 GGR for casino games played against the house amounted to more than EUR 80M, with sports-betting and poker coming in at a distance second and third, respectively.

The report can be found online (Dutch only).

An overview of the licensed operators can be found on the NGA’s website.

Competitive landscape

  • As of February 2024, a total of twenty-seven licences have been awarded, although several of these have been sitting dormant.
  • There is no limit on the number of licences which can be awarded.
  • For potential applicants, who have previously had an unlicensed presence in the Netherlands, the NGA will take a particularly harsh, likely fatal, view of such offerings. This applies to the broader corporate structure in which the applicant entity sits.

Localisation

  • The gambling offer and the entire interface must be available in the Dutch language. There is no restriction on the use of other languages.
  • There is no requirement to use a “.nl” extension, but this is commonplace in practice.
  • Whilst there are requirements as to the type of payment methods which can be used, particularly that no anonymous methods are permitted, there are no mandatory methods. For example, whilst iDEAL was seen as an indication that an offer was targeted at the Netherlands under the prioritisation criteria, in the context of enforcement prior to the introduction of the remote gambling licensing regime, licence holders are not obliged to used iDEAL.
  • Control Database (CDB) must be based in the Netherlands, whilst the rest of the game system must be in the EU/EEA.

Top Key Attractions and Challenges
Attractions

  • Unlimited number of licences available

Challenges

  • Relatively high tax rate and demanding licence application process

Licensing & Regulation

Well-regulated / Unregulated (Open)

Netherlands Online Gaming Licensing & Regulation

Licence Triggers
A remote gambling licence, as awarded by the NGA, is required to offer remote gambling services to customers in the Netherlands. All other offers are illegal and risk of enforcement measures.

Remote gambling licences awarded overseas are not recognised in the Netherlands, meaning that any locally unlicensed remote gambling offer aimed at the Dutch market is illegal...

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Enforcement

Regular / Punitive

Netherlands Online Gaming Enforcement

Supervision By Regulator
To date the NGA has not published any policy or guidance as to how it intends to supervise the regulated market. However, it has noted that supervision will be data driven. Indeed, licensed operators will be required to submit annual and quarterly returns reporting on a plethora of data, relating to topics including spend on advertising,...

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Marketing

Restricted

Netherlands Online Gaming Marketing

All marketing activities, including those of affiliates, are subject to strict standards set out in the amended BGA and the following secondary legislation (as amended):

Decree recruitment, advertising, and addiction prevention (Besluit werving, reclame en verslavingspreventie kansspelen, “Decree on advertising”) Regulation recruitment, advertising, and addiction prevention (Regeling werving, reclame en verslavingspreventie kansspelen, “Regulation on advertising”)

Some of the advertising restrictions...

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Fees

High

Netherlands Online Gaming Fees

Please note that the provided traffic light ratings of the products above, apart from the lottery, have been based on the inclusion of a financial guarantee in addition to the licence handling fee.

Application fees
The remote gambling licence application is subject to a non-refundable handling fee of EUR 48,000.

Ongoing fees
Once a licence has been awarded...

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Taxes

High

Netherlands Online Gaming Taxes

Licence Taxes
Games of chance are taxed in accordance with the BGTA, as follows:

The remote gambling tax at a rate of 30.5% GGR (as of 1 January 2023) Depending on the actual offer of the operator in question, a mandatory contribution to horseracing equalling 10% GGR from bets placed during each month on horse/harness races organised in the...

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Future Outlook

Positive

Netherlands Online Gaming Future Outlook

The remote gambling reforms entered into force in April 2021 and an evaluation of the regulatory regime is due to take place three years after this milestone. Other than the upcoming restriction on untargeted advertising, and possible developments regarding mandatory player limits, no other developments are currently on the horizon. Neither are there any product or vertical specific developments “waiting...

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Legal Expert

Kalff Katz & Franssen

Office locations The Netherlands (Amsterdam)

Kalff Katz & Franssen is the only law firm in the Netherlands with a multidisciplinary practice that specifically focuses on the national and international gaming and gambling sector and related sectors.

The Gaming practice group has built up a unique position in the market by specialising in and focusing on this sector. Its outstanding knowledge of the sector, which transcends the boundaries of specific areas of law, means the Gaming practice group understands what its clients are dealing with. An integrated approach is used to advise a wide range of clients in the gaming and gambling sector on diverse issues.

The Gaming practice group advises leading organisations in the Dutch and international gaming and gambling sector and related sectors (media, sports, including esports, financial services, etc.). Kalff Katz & Franssen’s clients include listed B2C and B2B operators, software developers, inspection bodies, financial institutions, payment service providers, private equity investors, media companies, hosting companies and public authorities.

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Contact Netherlands - Kalff Katz & Franssen

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