The online gambling sector in the Netherlands faces another delay after a government minister admitted that preparations had been disrupted.
Sander Dekker, the Minister for Legal Protection, has said that the launch of the new online sector, which has already been affected by a six month delay, had been further delayed by the coronavirus pandemic. The new sector had been due to launch in July next year, but this date is likely to be pushed back a few months following a move by a Dutch Member of Parliament.
Socialist Party politician Michael van Nipsen put forward a proposal requesting a delay last week, one of two similar measures, both of which earned enough support to be put to a full vote of the House of Representatives. Van Nipsen’s motion highlighted the fact that the government and regulator’s preparations for the new online gambling market had been disrupted. According to Van Nipsen, a delay would ensure that the Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) was better able to prepare itself.
Dekker admitted that there were arguments on both sides, including from those who had stated their wish that the online Gambling Act had already been put into operation, but said that a delay was possible due to the disruptive effect of the pandemic:
“At the same time, there are also a number of providers that say: we will soon have to meet all kinds of obligations, and how can we prepare for that? Then there’s the fact that my Ministry has also been very busy lately – a lot of things have been going on. I do not rule out the possibility of a slight delay,” he added. “I see some room for manoeuvre there. I leave the judgment on this motion to the House.”
When asked by another MP how long the delay could be, the Minister said that he believed it may extend to a few months beyond the July 2021 date. Online gambling in the country was initially scheduled to go live at the start of 2021, but the launch date was later pushed back.
Van Nipsen also put forward a motion addressing the issue of the national self-exclusion scheme, known as the Centraal Register Uitsluiting Kansspelen (Cruks). He said that the market should not be opened until the operation of this authority was stable. He also called for an additional fund to tackle the harm of problem gambling, and increased enforcement action against unlicensed operators.
The long delay in implementing online gambling in the Netherlands has been reflective of concerns in some quarters about the effects of gambling. Last week Dekker moved to address some of these concerns, in the area of excessive gambling advertising. He said that gambling firms should ensure fairness in their advertising by providing full details of any promotions. He also said that gambling advertisements should not create unrealistic expectations or downplay gambling harms.