The Netherlands hosts a significant number of land-based casinos and arcades, alongside which comes a solid retail slots knowledge. However, with new digital regulations coming into force, how should operators position themselves and what will be the key metrics for success?
On the second day of SBC Summit Barcelona, a panel entitled ‘Netherlands – where do players’ loyalties lie?’ took an in-depth look into the opportunity in the country and what’s to come with its new regulation.
Moderated by Steven Myers, managing director of Praxis Consulting and Advisory, the panel consisted of Jaakko Soininen, managing director at Finnplay, Ruben Gräve, COO at Acroud, and Alan Littler, gaming lawyer at Kalf, Katz & Franssen.
Kicking off the discussion was Littler, who, bearing in mind the current land-based industry and the grey market’s requirements, highlighted that: “The remote gambling regulations, which actually came into force in April, are clearly a means for operators who have been on the market in a passive capacity for a long time to finally be able to establish themselves as a locally licenced and regulated brand and, therefore, have greater visibility.”
Littler added that the opportunity is also “a good stepping stone” for the local arcade sector to get into a remote market “which they haven’t been able to do until now.”
Looking at the Dutch market in comparison to other jurisdictions, Soininen revealed his view that “every European jurisdiction is somewhat similar.”
“In the Netherlands I think that their auditing scheme of the platform is quite tight and what you can deploy to the products and when is strict – which will create challenges for some of the operators when they need to do some fixes for the products. But otherwise, I think it’s pretty much in line with the other markets,” he explained.
For the past few years, so long as operators complied with the criteria of the gambling authority, they were able to remain on the market with a passive supply. However, this policy has recently been changed.
With the gambling authority having stepped up its enforcement efforts ahead of the market’s long awaited opening on October 1, alongside a new enforcement and fining policy, Gräve commented: “For us, this isn’t our first rodeo. Right now, the largest challenge in the past few weeks has just been the unknown in the short-term announcing period that the Ksa has given.
“Also, that has been putting a lot of pressure on our sales team and operational teams, which means that we still actually have positions open in our top list, so that’s our challenge right now.”
Pressed by an audience member as to whether he thought operators in their cooling off period should be exiting the market until they get their licence, with new entrants entering the market on October 1, Littler responded: “The fining policy applies for investigations as of October 1. The enforcement policy applies as of November 1. The letter from the minister alluded to the fact that it should [be drying up] soon, but not right now.
“So I would say not October 1, but whether you’d want to wait until November 1 is a different question.”
Ahead of the market opening, René Jansen, chair of the Dutch gaming authority, confirmed that a revised penalty policy would come into effect, with a legitimate market meaning “heavy fines for illegal operators.”
“The mission of the Gaming Authority is ‘to play it safe’, the consumer who wants to participate in games of chance must be able to do so in a safe environment,” he elaborated
“He must be assured of a fair game. And the provider must pay sufficient attention to the prevention of gambling addiction.
“Today, an important step has been taken with the opening up of the legal market for online gambling. Recent years have shown that simply banning online gambling was no longer possible. With legalisation and regulation, it is better possible to protect consumers against abuses.”
To watch this session On Demand via SBC’s digital platform visit digital.sbcevents.com for a free registration.