iGaming Supershow 2016 / Gaming in Holland

This article is a translation of the original Dutch article and translated by a non-native English writer. Therefore, apologies for any faulty translations or grammar.

iGaming Supershow 2016

The week of June 6-10 2016 was all about the iGaming Supershow. With eight conferences, over 100 speakers, 45 sessions and almost 4000 visitors the iGaming Supershow in Amsterdam is an understanding in the world of gaming and betting. This article will give a summary about the congress, as well a general update about lotteries, games of chance and the new bill on Games of Chance (in Dutch: KOA) in the Netherlands. During the week there are some articles published regarding the future of the Dutch market, the consequences for good causes and for the sport. We will give a short review on these articles at last.

Gaming in Holland congress

On Tuesday, June 7 one kicked off with news about the future of Holland Casino, an update about the KOA and the situation around the good causes lotteries. As last topic of the day the congress ended with an pandel discussion where the Dutch punter gave the participants an insight in what’s important for the consumer. The panel was moderated by Tom van Beem

Informationportal made a short summary of this first day of Gaming in Holland, where the panel discussion is also handled. Have a look at the video including an interview with Tom via this link.

Holland Casino

The privatization of Holland Casino is scheduled for 2017, whereby four of the current fourteen locations are divested and sold separately. There will be two new casino licenses created as well. Besides, Holland Casino is developing an online casino offer, for the event the Dutch online market will be regulated. The software developer is Playtech, well known for their work with a.o. Netbet, 888, LeoVegas and William Hill.

Update on the KOA

As one knows, the KOA is discussed or at least on the table for years, although it looks like the government will be voting about the bill this year. Nevertheless, a strong anti-lobby is and stays active, which caused the current bill months, if not years, of delay. One is afraid that the debate will be postponed until after the summer recess, which could result in a situation where the debate will be cancelled at all due to the elections in March 2017. This will delay the bill every further and the new government will have to create a new proposal, or new delay. Following the last messages the Ministry of Security and Justice has given priority to the KOA and will the debate and voting take place before the recess.

Dennis van Breemen, program manager at the Ministery of Security and Justice, mentions that there are things likely to change in the current bill. He highlights changes regarding the advertising opportunities and bonuses. Based on the current 29% tax rate the Ministry expects a channelization of 60 to 65% after three year, which is significant lower than the desired 80%.

The Dutch Gaming Authority (KSA), represented by its director Marja Appelboom, thinks the 29% tax rate is not good for the consumer. She is pleating for a quick evaluation to investigate whether the tax rate kan be lowered to 25%, to protect more consumers.

Update on the good causes lotteries

One of the speakers on the Gaming in Holland congress was Peter-Paul de Goeij, director of Lottovate Netherlands. Lottovate is English from origine and wants to enter the Dutch market. The company already applied for a license in 2014, which was denied by the State Secretary back then. De judge ruled at the end of May 2016 that the rejection was unjustified. As a result, the KSA decided to look the application of Lottovate again. The KSA also mentioned it is possible for other organizations to apply for a license for organizing a good causes lottery.

This news is probably not received with celebrations by the current lotteries. The company who exploits 3 out of the 4 licenses, Novamedia, is lobbying against newcomers for years. In the beginning of June three major good causes in the Netherlands wrote a large opinion article (Financieel Dagblad, 3 juni 2016 (in Dutch)) with a clear appeal not to open the lottery market. The fear seems unfounded, as the current law states that good causes lotteries are required to give 40% of their revenues to good causes. Lottovate stated they want to grant 50% to good causes.

Opening the lottery market will therefore not be negative, but rather have positive consequences voor the good causes. The ‘pot of gold’ will become rather grow than decrease. Of course, the chance exists the current lotteries will have less revenues as the market becomes more competitive. Or the current lotteries could reject current beneficiaries if they will cooperate with foreign and/or new entrants. But the total pot will become bigger, which is good for the good causes.

Removing betting and gambling apps from the app stores

The KSA requested operators of games of chance to remove their apps from the app stores of Android and Apple. A number of operators complied with the request, however there are still multiple apps to be found in the app stores after some research. The question remains what the effect of removing the apps is for the consumer. A large part of the current players already downloaded the app, which can not be removed by de KSA or the operator. Other players are still able to play through a mobile responsive website, or download the app through a detour on Android phones.

Newspaper articles

In the beginning of June, the following headlines appeared in Dutch media: ‘Gambling giant from Sweden doesn’t want to wait any longer’ (Algemeen Dagblad (AD), 9 juni 2016. Note: in Dutch) and ‘Dutch Football Association takes advance on new gambling bill’ (de Volkskrant, 10 juni 2016. Note: in Dutch). The AD publishes an interview with Betsson CEO Ulrik Bengtsson. Betsson owns Dutch tinted online casino’s Oranje and Kroon, but is restricted in any activities in the Netherlands. Betsson is one of the parties who removed their apps from the app stores, but now expects action from the government. Bengtsson stresses that regulation is good for both the government as well as the consumer, who can’t be checked online at the moment.

The Dutch Football Association (DFA) drafted a sportcode, which contains rules where clubs, players and associations should hold on to when the gaming market is regulated. For example: sportsmen under 24 may not make ads for games of chance. There is also a ban on sharing inside-information, about injuries for example. According to DFA-director Gijs de Jong this code is a signal to the government to hurry up with the regulation. He says: ‘The bill (from 1964), does not correspond with the current reality and risks: gambling players, match fixing and football fans betting on uncontrolled websites. By legalizing you can require operators to share data about suspicious cases.’

The past and the current shows that gambling brands are keen on sponsoring football clubs. Director of the Dutch Eredivisie Alex Tielbeke: ‘the money will not come in big numbers into the Netherlands. But when I look at countries in our surroundings, it is possible that around 5 clubs will close a partnership with a gambling operator.’ Tielbeke also says he has seen companies dropping out due to the huge delay from the government.

Reaction BD Sport

It seems all parties are looking forward to the opening of the Dutch gaming market: the lotteries, casino’s, (online) operators, the government, the KSA as well as the specific Ministry agree that regulating is for the best of the consumer. It is understandable current parties such as the Lotto, Postcode Lottery and FriendsLottery are not delighted with the regulation. There’s a chance their share becomes smaller, although good causes do not have to fear for less income: just like current lotteries new entrants are required to grant at least 40% of their revenues to good causes.

Regulation and thereby the entrant of foreign and/or new operators is important for the sport as well: on one hand to protect the integrity of the sport and on the other to generate more income from partnerships. Articles in the AD and Volkskrant also show this. We expect that more than 5 clubs will close a partnership: in surrounding countries as Belgium, England and Germany every club from the top league has at least one betting partner. Football is still number one in creating awareness and trust with the consumer.

If the government really wants to protect the consumer, the gaming bill needs to be discussed before the summer recess. If that will not happen, it is questionable if regulation will happen anytime soon. With a 29% tax rate is seems that the government is more interested in taxes than in protecting the consumer, but we leave that for what it is. For now we can just hope the debate will take place in June 2016.

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