Netherlands – Uncertainty remains for previous remote gaming violators

Although last week, the Dutch Minister of Legal Protection published the Remote Gaming Decree (‘RGD’) for public consultation, i.e. secondary legislation to the new Dutch Remote Gaming Act, uncertainty remains as to whether previous violations would prevent a successful application for a remote gaming license in the Netherlands.

In July 2018, the Minister clearly stated that previous violations of the Dutch gaming legislation would not automatically lead to a license to be denied, as such violation would not mean that that an operator is not reliable or irresponsible from the outset. Although previous violations do have a negative impact on the overall assessment, intention and future compliance must also be considered as well as for example the fact that the operator has licenses in other EU Member States. In other words, all aspects must be taken into account. Nonetheless, the Minster did emphasize already in July 2018 that operators that have been sanctioned by the Dutch regulator KSA, will not be eligible for a license when the remote gaming market will open up in the Netherlands. Further guidelines in this respect need to be developed by KSA.

In the explanatory memorandum to the draft RGD, the Minister further explains that previous violations – either in the Netherlands or abroad – can be a ‘heavy contraindication’ and is considered a reliability risk. However, the Minister states that for each individual violation the consequences for the reliability must be considered: “A minor and non-intentional violation committed has less value

than a deliberate, large-scale and long-term violation of the gaming legislation. It can also be important to what extent the operator has taken measures to prevent repetition.”

After this publication, the Minister met with the Senate’s Permanent Committee for Justice and Security. There, the Minster confirmed there that sanctions imposed do prevent obtaining a license. The Minister will ask KSA to further formulate procedures in this respect. These should also cover the period of time an operator will be excluded for obtaining a license

In other words, it seems to be clear that in case of previous sanctions imposed, operators won’t be able to immediately apply for a license; further guidance on the exact impact will follow. It is not clear though what the consequences will be for previous violations that haven’t been sanctioned. Given the Minister’s earlier statement in July, there may be hope for operators that have offered online games on the Dutch market but haven’t been sanctioned. Yet, we do see that in the past months, KSA has become really active in imposing new sanction. Uncertainty remains.