Illegal Gambling Continues to Expand in the Netherlands

  • Illegal gambling in the Netherlands jumps by 20%
  • The industry’s estimated at the same figures as before the increase
  • The government to vote on the Remote Gambling Bill on February 5

Despite its gung-ho position on gambling, Dutch regulators have been unable to curb the rise in numbers of illegal bettors.

The Netherlands See Illegal Gambling Increase

Illegal gambling has been cited as a problem by the country’s regulator, the Kansspelautoriteit (KSA). In a bid to punish the so-called bad actors, in 2018 the Netherlands decided to go after established brands that have been offering localized betting solutions to Dutch citizens.

William Hill and Betsson have since contested the claims. Meanwhile, illegal gambling has grown by 20%, a Holland Casino report has established. Estimated 1.8 million people are now actively participating in offshore gaming websites.

However, the growing of the market has not occasioned an increase in revenue, with customers apparently practicing responsible gaming. The report put the gross estimate of the market at €600 million yearly.

William Hill to Contest Regulatory Fine in the Netherlands

To qualify as a gamer, a person must have wagered at least seven times in a year. Even though the majority of interviewed people said that they would prefer to wager with a licensed bookmaker or a casino, partly explaining why William Hill and Betsson have been successful in the country, people continue to turn to offshore operators.

In light of the steadily developing (illegal) gaming market, the Dutch government is now potentially missing out on €175 million in tax money every year, given the current levels.

Regulating the Dutch Gambling Market in 2020

The KSA has been calling for the regulation of the market for a while now. In 2018, government officials briefly considered addressing the issue and pushing through with it, but plans have since fall through, with a proposed bill being mothballed instead.

KSA officials criticized the government for failing to act in its full capacity and start regulating the industry as intended. The bill also touched upon on “bad actors”, i.e. casinos that have been offering products to Dutch gamers without permission.

Even brands such as William Hill and Betsson were targeted (hence the litigation). The bill has now been in a sort of limbo since 2016, but the House of Representative is picking up the subject again on February 5.

Fighting Addiction in a Lawless Market

Despite the growing number of gamblers, the level of gambling addicts hasn’t been increasing. According to Holland Casino, the property has been able to actively curb gaming habits spiralling out of control thanks to advanced algorithms identifying customers with unhealthy gaming habits.

Meanwhile, the KSA has been actively seeking to mete out punishment for what it considered illegal activities. The regulator issued nearly $2 million in penalties in 2018, an unprecedentedly high level.

However, in light of the recent findings, the KSA may be coming to realize that applying financial punishment would do little to actually address the bigger question – how does the country gets its people to play with legalized operators.

Passing the Remote Gaming Bill and licensing operators would be the first logical thing to do.

Aran Malik

“Magic Malik”—as we like to call him—is not only a tech whiz but a wizard when it comes to getting obscure news hot off the press so we know exactly what’s happening and can explore and report it back to our growing and loyal readerbase.

William Hill to Contest Regulatory Fine in the Netherlands

iGaming regulation in the Netherlands is a tough nut to crack. Until recently, many companies shunned the idea of offering their product in the country, but things have now changed. The Dutch government is preparing a more lenient approach to gambling activities and any brand that’s willing to obtain a license may now do it. However, things have been rather stale since September. And now, William Hill must pay a $338,700 fine.

Online Gaming Legalization in the Netherlands

The Netherlands has avoided discussing the legalization of the iGaming sector for a long while. After talks began earlier this year, the Netherlands Gambling Authority (KSA), backed by the government, argued that any operators that wanted to enter the would-be regulated market and which had been providing iGaming products online before, without a proper licensing, could be barred from achieving a legal status in the Netherlands.

This is almost what’s happening with William Hill, only the KSA has taken a more lenient approach, demanding instead a stiff penalty ($338,700) instead. According to the regulator, William Hill has been catering to Dutch customers without bothering to obtain a license. Individuals living in the country had been able to play on and use two separate mobile applications to access the gambling markets offered by the brand.

William Hill's betting shop
A William Hill betting shop’s interior. Photo credit: William Hill.

According to the KSA, Dutch customers had been left to enjoy all sorts of casino games as well as participate in poker and sports betting. More specifically, William Hill had translated the interface into Dutch, thus becoming fully-complacent with luring Dutch customers.

William Hill also understood the inherent difficulties for Dutch gamers when it comes to depositing and withdrawing from online iGaming sites, which wasn’t prohibited, and thus introduced an alternative payment method, iDEAL, which is one of the most popular payment solutions on the country’s market.

However, William Hill are far from simply conceding to the KSA ruling. Instead, the company has known for a few weeks that the regulator is planning to issue a fine, which the British brand is now ready to fight.

Dragging Their Feet

According to KSA Chairman and Exec René Jansen, the watchdog will do anything in its power to guarantee the protection and security of local gamers against unregulated offers.

A player who gambles with an illegal provider does without any protection; there is no supervision so it is impossible to ensure these companies are conducting business fairly, and that is why the KSA acts against illegal providers. -KSA Chairman René Jansen

Mr. Jansen also noted the KSA’s ongoing commitment to stave off illegal activities and curb gambling addiction. Meanwhile, William Hill is about to join a number of other companies which have been issued a similar penalty in absentia, including MRG, and a Betsson Group’s subsidiary.

The Dutch government has been making a steadfast push into clamping down on “illegal gambling activities” in the country. One notable measure the government has considered was the “bad actor” initiative, which basically wanted to target companies that have offered a product in the past without a license should be fined and even banned.

There has also been a rift between the government’s indecision to finalize a regulatory framework and the KSA whose outgoing chairman and vice chairman, Jan Suyver and Henk Kesler respectively, have grumbled against the slow process of delivering a lawful gambling framework, allowing institutions to handle operators.

In September, when the 2016-bill had to be voted on, no effort was made, leading to a state of limbo for the iGaming industry in the Netherlands. As a result, fines continue to trickle in, but operators can’t help but ask the question – on what grounds?

Sophia Rojas

Growing up around law firms, Sophia keeps our team of reporters atop any legislative developments to follow up with a welcomed dose of positive news as our house trivia nut!