Regulatory Landscape and Relevant Products
In the realm of gambling laws, the Netherlands has undergone significant transformations, most notably with the enactment of the Remote Gambling Act on April 1, 2021. The primary regulatory authority overseeing gambling activities in the country is the Netherlands Gambling Authority (Kansspelautoriteit, “NGA”). This article provides an in-depth exploration of the regulatory framework, the types of gambling products, and the application process for licenses in both land-based and digital formats.
1. Regulatory Framework
1.1 Entities and Relevant Products
The primary legislation governing gambling in the Netherlands includes the Betting and Gambling Act (Wet op de kansspelen, “BGA”), the Betting and Gambling Tax Act (Wet op de kansspelbelasting, “BGTA”), and various other acts and regulations. The NGA is the key authority responsible for enforcing the BGA and issuing licenses for the operation of games of chance.
In digital form, casino gaming, poker, bingo, and betting fall under the jurisdiction of the NGA. Land-based casino gaming and betting also come under the purview of the NGA. However, lotteries are prohibited, and social/skill gaming activities are regulated by the Authority for Consumers & Markets.
1.2 Legislative Framework
Under the BGA, it is prohibited to offer games of chance without the requisite license, facilitate unlicensed games, or knowingly participate in unlicensed games. A game is classified as a game of chance if participants compete for prizes or premiums determined by means beyond their dominant influence. This definition encompasses virtual goods with economic value, and a stake is not required for a game to fall under Dutch gambling law.
Secondary legislation includes the Remote Gambling Decree, Remote Gambling Regulation, and various policy and guidance documents issued by the NGA.
2. Licensing and Restrictions
2.1 License Requirements
Different licenses are required for various types of gambling activities. Non-incidental games of chance, slot machine arcades, and remote games of chance have distinct licensing requirements. For example, remote gambling licenses cover casino games, betting on sporting events, and bets on horse racing.
2.2 Licensing Structure
As of August 2023, the NGA has issued 25 remote gambling licenses. Licensees must ensure compliance with the BGA, Anti-Money Laundering Act (AML Act), and Sanctions Act 1977. B2C operators are obligated to obtain licenses, and international liquidity pooling is permitted. The licensing regime does not mandate collaboration with local land-based operators.
2.3 Application Process
Application processes vary for different types of licenses. For charity lotteries, applicants submit forms to the NGA, which has eight weeks to reach a decision. For remote gambling, a digital portal called the Application Portal is utilized. The NGA assesses applications within a six-month period, with a €48,000 non-refundable license handling fee.
2.4 License Restrictions
Licensees face specific restrictions, such as charity lotteries allocating 40% of ticket sales to good causes and remote gambling operators maintaining an “active duty of care” to prevent problem gambling.
2.5 License Duration and Review
Non-incidental games of chance licenses have a duration of up to five years, while remote gambling licenses are also valid for a maximum of five years. The NGA can revoke licenses for non-compliance with legislation or conditions attached to the license.
3. Social Responsibility, Advertising, and Taxation
3.1 Social Responsibility
All licensees must adhere to a duty of care to prevent underage gambling and protect players from excessive gambling risks. Remote gambling licensees, in particular, are required to have a comprehensive addiction prevention policy and provide information on responsible gambling behavior.
3.2 Advertising Restrictions
Advertising rules apply to both land-based and online gambling. Remote gambling licensees are subject to restrictions, including a ban on untargeted advertising, limitations on bonus offers, and prohibitions on advertising during sporting events. The use of individual professional sportspersons in advertising has been prohibited since June 30, 2022.
Land-based gambling is taxed at a rate of 29.5%, with different tax bases for various offerings. Remote gambling operators are subject to a 29.5% tax rate on Gross Gaming Revenue (GGR), and an additional 1.95% gambling levy.
4. Anticipated Reforms
The Netherlands is anticipating changes to gambling laws, including the introduction of playing limits and a comprehensive evaluation of the remote gambling regime in 2024. Legislative amendments have been requested, including the authority to use fake identification documents for supervision and enforcement purposes.
In conclusion, the gambling landscape in the Netherlands is evolving, with a focus on responsible gambling, comprehensive licensing regimes, and adapting to the digital era. The regulatory framework aims to strike a balance between consumer protection and facilitating a regulated and controlled gambling environment.
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