Niels Onkenhout: KOA learnt lessons from European counterparts

Nederlandse Loterij’s Chief Executive, Niels Onkenhout, has hailed the launch of the KOA Regime, yet stressed that it is nowhere near complete. 

Launched on October 1, 2021, Onkenhout stated that development of the framework had seen Dutch regulators apply “the learnings of European counterparts such as the UK and Scandinavia”.

Participating in the latest SBC Leaders podcast, hosted by Kelly Kehn, the Chief Executive of the Netherland’s state lottery stressed that Dutch online gambling has reached a critical period, with upcoming judgements from the new coalition government set to reshape the market layout. 

“There is a panic amongst politicians and regulators on the sheer level of advertising, and whether we are leading young people into the abyss,” reflected Onkenhout on the developments of the last five months since KOA’s launch. 

“After three or four months, there is now a debate on an advertising ban, in which a new government has called ministers one-by-one to be questioned on how all this has come about.”

Onkenhout outlined Nederlandse Loterij’s ‘native credentials’, in which the state-owned enterprise has served as the “oldest state lottery operating for 295 years”.

Meanwhile the withdrawn process of KOA’s launch had helped Loterij revamp its flagship ToTo sportsbook brand, which Onkenhout stated will not be playing catch-up against the market’s new suitors.  

He added: “We are very well plugged into Dutch society, and understand what emotions are and how different stakeholders act and what their beliefs are and how you can engage with customers.”

As such, Onkenhout maintained that although challenges remain with regards to the KOA final framework, a strong competitive field is expected as more firms enter the fray. 

Hurdles may remain on player protection and advertising, but the CEO maintained the country still poses a lucrative opportunity for any interested companies.

“In the coming months, we expect another 10 licensees to enter the market,” Onkenhout concluded. 

“This means a country the size of New Jersey will have 20 licensed operators offering online gambling… that is an interesting proposition, for a sizable market, with probably good winnings for all companies.”