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Dutch Gambling Authority takes new measures against online gambling
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The Dutch Gambling Authority, has announced new measures in the fight against online gambling. The Gambling Authority uses a enforcement policy which made them only enforce online gambling only if: (1) the gambling operator offers a website in Dutch, (2) has a Dutch webserver or (3) advertises through Dutch media. If one of these criteria is met, the Gambling Authority takes action. This enforcement makes it harder for online gambling operators to penetrate the market. However, there are still gambling operators that successfully reach the Dutch customer. Because of this the Gambling Authority decided to implement a new enforcement policy. This new policy contains additions to the current one and needs to make sure that gambling operators, who are now working around the current enforcement policy, can be dislodged. With the motion Bouwmeester (a motion which states that illegal gambling operators can not get a permit) in mind, it is interesting to watch what will happen with these gambling operators. The additions to the set criteria will be active from the 1st of june. New ways to determine if a gambling operator is engaging the Dutch market consist of:

  • looking if the gambling operator has a name that refers to the Netherlands.
  • If a operator makes use of a promotional website with a .nl extension.
  • If the operator offers payment methods that are commonly used among Dutch people.
  • If the operators use geo-blocking.
  • The Gambling Authority already strengthened their battle against online gambling at the beginning of this year, by manhandling immediately instead of sending warning letters to operators first. all these measures need to help in reducing online gambling operators that are engaging the Dutch market.

    Even when a gambling operator gets to work around the restrictions, the Gambling Authority can still decide to act against the operator if the risk or damage to the public is to dangerous. An example of this are the 55 gambling apps that the Gambling Authority deleted from the Dutch App Store. Gambling apps on mobile devices made it possible to gamble 24/7, which can be dangerous for the Dutch users according to the Gambling Authority.

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    It is good to see that the Gambling Authority is actively trying to keep illegal gambling operators away. The consumer will not benefit from dishonest and doubtable providers of online gambling. However, the focus needs to be more on defining an “illegal gambling operator”. Is a European gambling operator, who is operating in most of the EU countries, illegal? In the Netherlands it is, because we are still obey a law that was created in 1964. In case the government is really thriving to protect the consumer, a change of law is indispensable. The same gambling operator that is illegal in the Netherlands, is legal in countries as France, Belgium and Germany. These surrounding countries have shown that legalisation and regulation of online gambling can lead to a more transparent and safer way of online gambling for the consumer. Does the internet have limits in which every gambling operator without a Dutch license gets specified as illegal? The new enforcement policy will have its effect, that we can say with no doubt. However, it is realistic to say that (a part of) the 1,5 million Dutch online gamblers will find another way to gamble online. The law change which will protect the Dutch consumer and help regulate online gambling, still needs to pass the senate. The never-ending lobbying of opponents of the law change, such as religious political parties and Novamedia (Postocode lottery and Friends lottery), is seeming to succeed again in delaying the law change. Especially the interference of lobbyists is what brings up questions. Are they lobbying to protect the consumer or are they lobbying to protect their product?
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