KSA’s René Jansen: Dutch gambling market reaching ‘degree of maturity’

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René Jansen, Chair of Kansspelautoriteit, has highlighted the changes that are occurring within the Dutch online gambling market that demonstrate it is reaching a “certain degree of maturity”.

In a blog post, Jansen went over the changes that have taken place in the Netherlands’ online market since its launch in October 2021 following the KOA Act.

The outgoing Chair of the Dutch gambling authority noted that there were two peak moments when it comes to licence applications in the Dutch market – when the KOA Act came into effect in April 2021 and just before the expiry of the ‘leniency scheme’ in April 2022 – all of which have been processed with one in three earning permits.

However, the KSA has seen a drop in new licence applications in 2023 and it is expecting a similar trend in 2024, which the regulator attributes to growth in business acquisitions and an expansion to the permitted range of games.

Jansen noted that several licence holders have sent requests to the regulator to expand their licence to include an additional online gambling category.

Large licensees have also taken over small licence holders to gain a stronger presence, while investment companies are getting involved with licensees and foreign operators without a licence are taking over small licenced operators.

The KSA Chair claims that many takeovers are a result of foreign operators finding a way into the market after their initial application to obtain a Dutch licence wasn’t processed further as they failed to meet regulatory requirements regarding the control database. Instead, they entered the market by acquiring smaller licensed operators with CDB expertise.

He added that this development is an indication that the Dutch market is reaching a “certain degree of maturity”, but reminded operators they must keep paying attention to their obligations, especially to duty of care.

Jansen stated: “This development, from mainly requests to mainly changes, shows that the market is starting to reach a certain degree of maturity. It is no longer so much about conquering a position, but mainly about strengthening the competitive position and increasing market share. 

“That is a logical development in a relatively young market, but one that we are closely monitoring. After all, a major competitive push can also cause providers to pay less attention to crucial aspects such as duty of care. However, that attention should never, ever slacken.

“I therefore propose that providers include in their good intentions for 2024 that, when they want to work on their growth, they do not lose sight of the attention to safe playing.”