Netherlands - 125 operators including well-known firms such as PokerStars and Bwin, have applied for online gambling licenses in the Netherlands. Those who are awarded licenses would be able to start operating in 2021, when the interest would be declared legal.
It has been a long road coming for the country to get to this point with debates regarding the issue raging on since 2010. It was not until 2016 that lawmakers introduced the bill. Under the recently passed bill, there will be a 29% tax on online gambling revenues and an extra 1.5% levy that would make its way to the national regulatory body, the Kansspelautoriteit (KSA).
Finally, a 0.5% portion will be directed towards treatment programs that would benefit those suffering problem gambling. These are among the highest tax rates in Europe.
While there were discussions of the KSA being able to prevent the IP addresses of Netherlands citizens using illegal offshore platforms, this idea did not get enough backing. The new regulations would be enforced come January 1, 2021, when the KSA would start issuing the licenses.
The Holland Casino is the only legalized gambling operation in the country. However, offshore operators have long honed in on Netherlands residents. Legalizing online gambling in the Netherlands would essentially mean that the government could now benefit from its gambling population instead of having all of those funds heading outside of the country.
It’s possible that some of the 125 operators who have applied for licenses would drop out of the race. It is set to be a very costly process because, with all of the different taxes and a lot of competition, it would be fairly difficult to carve out substantial profits.
There are also worries that black market gambling would start becoming prevalent. The use of these platforms is already rising, increasing by 20% in the last two years. About 1.8 million people gamble in some way or form in the Netherlands, with estimates that €600m ($684m or £537m)) is gambled each year, which means about €175m ($199m or £156.5m) in lost tax revenue.
The KSA is increasing its efforts to combat illegal gambling. The agency is ensuring that the sector would have robust regulations. Anyone signing up for an account on an online gambling platform would first have to fill out a risk profile. Betting activities of players will be monitored to swiftly recognize any possible indicators of problem gambling.
The KSA already has a list of people who are known to have gambling problems: the Central Register Exclusion of Games of Chance (CRUKS). The regulator can exclude players on this list from online platforms for different time periods. There are also plans to implement some kind of ban on gambling advertising, with a proposal to be presented by September 1.