After years of delays, Online Gambling Regulation Discussion Begins in Dutch Senate finally commenced its review of the so-called Remote Gambling Bill.
The Senate’s debate on the proposed re-regulation and opening of the local online gambling market to interested international operators began yesterday.
While a vote on the bill, previously approved in the Dutch House of Representatives, is yet to take place in the Senate, there was tiny progress toward that necessary vote during yesterday’s discussions.
According to Gaming in Holland, which live-tweeted key takeaways from the Senate’s debate, the Remote Gambling Bill has already gained majority support in the upper house of the Dutch Parliament. However, there was a surprising twist in yesterday’s discussions that extended late into the night.
Senate lawmakers asked Dutch Minister for Legal Protection Sander Dekker to provide written answers to three important questions regarding the re-organization of the nation’s gambling market. Minister Dekker has long been the main proponent of the re-regulation of the Dutch online gaming and betting field.
The legislator will have to provide more specific explanation on what the term “illegal operator” stands for and on what legal basis such operator can be excluded from the local gambling market. The second question raised by the Senate expects Minister Dekker to present measures that would restrict gambling advertising on websites and social media and on what legal basis such measures could be implemented.
Finally, the Minister will have to provide information on specific measures “grounded” in the Netherlands’ administrative law to block illegal gambling websites after the reorganization of the local market. As mentioned earlier, Minister Dekker will have to provide written answers by Friday.
Takeaways from the Senate’s Questions
While the general mood during yesterday’s debate gave up support for the Remote Gambling Bill, the three questions raised late into the night show that the legislation could undergo certain modifications before being voted on by Senate lawmakers.
In the first place, it seems that the Senate might insist on the introduction of a blackout period for companies that have already been servicing Dutch customers, despite the fact that the Netherlands’ current gambling regulations prohibit that. Such companies will not be allowed to apply for and obtain licenses from local regulators for a certain period of time as a punishment for violating previous rules, if measures on the issue are indeed introduced.
It also seems that lawmakers will seek to implement certain restrictions in the way regulated gambling services are advertised on the Internet, including on social media. Any such restrictions should not come as a big surprise, particularly given the fact that several European countries have recently signaled plans to consider and potentially introduce limitations on how gaming and betting products are promoted.
Based on the third question that Minister Dekker will have to provide a written reply to, the Senate is clearly considering to add provisions that will require local Internet service providers to block gambling websites managed by unlicensed operators. Blacklisting and ISP blocking have been practiced in a number of regulated markets, but have proved highly ineffective against the battle against unlicensed operations.
The Dutch Senate will meet again next Tuesday, February 12, to review Minister Dekker’s written replies and possibly vote on the Remote Gambling Bill. The piece was passed by the Dutch House of Representative in the summer of 2016, but has seen little movement in the Parliament since then.