“I think the Netherlands might be a very interesting market”

René Jansen spoke to Focus Gaming News about the Netherlands' preparations to regulate iGaming.
René Jansen spoke to Focus Gaming News about the Netherlands' preparations to regulate iGaming.

(Exclusive interview).- Focus Gaming News interviews René Jansen, chairman of the Netherlands Gambling Authority, Kansspelautoriteit (Ksa).

The Netherlands.- All eyes will be on The Netherlands next year as the country expects to open its regulated online gaming market. Focus Gaming News spoke to René Jansen, chairman of the Netherlands Gambling Authority, Kansspelautoriteit, about how the Ksa is preparing.

The Dutch iGaming market is still theoretically due to go live on July 3, although Mr Jansen confirmed he expects a delay of “a few months” following comments from the Minister for Legal Protection, Sander Dekker, due to the impact of the pandemic on communication with operators on elements they need for the application process.

Mr Jansen says Ksa will be ready “when the time comes.”

He said: “It’s a complicated law, there are many regulations we have to fit in and procedures for the application for licences in the future, but we’re on track and when the time comes we’ll be ready.”

He said he believes the market would be attractive to operators and that channelisation targets would be achieved.

“I think the Dutch market might be a very interesting market.”

René Jansen, Chairman of the Netherlands Gambling Authority, Kansspelautoriteit.

“We have our targets of something like 80 per cent channelisation within three years after market opening and what I hear and see around me is that there is quite some interest of parties studying whether they are going to apply for a licence in the future so I think the Dutch market might be a very interesting market so at this moment we’re quite confident the channelisation target could be achieved. 

“We might be in a position where we need to change some elements of the regulation but for now I think we feel quite happy with the way things are going on.”

“There needs to be a cooling down period”

René Jansen, Chairman of the Netherlands Gambling Authority, Kansspelautoriteit.

One of the points of contention in the Dutch transition to a regulated market has been the approach to operators currently operating in the unregulated market. 

The Netherlands has said operators who have “actively targeted Dutch players” in the last two years would be barred from gaining licences, and would also have to rebuild their databases from scratch when entering the regulated market. 

Mr Jansen said some operators had taken that message on board.

“Several operators changed their habits in a certain sense,” he said. “For example they stopped using payment methods popular in the Netherlands.”

The Ksa has also been unimpressed by operators using the Covid-19 pandemic in publicity for gambling products.

Mr Jansen said: “Some operators and some affiliates of those operators tried to gain new players with ads marketing like ‘Corona-free gambling’. That’s something that we really find despicable, so that might have an impact on future licence applications because this will be part of the reliability tests that we’ll have in place before we can open the market.”

Mr Jansen described the proposed Dutch licensing process as exhaustive, saying issues on reliability and securing the financial position of players are very detailed in the legislation and needed to be tested in a very detailed way. 

“Informally we’ve had a few very positive reactions on our market vision.”

René Jansen, Chairman of the Netherlands Gambling Authority, Kansspelautoriteit.

Mr Jansen said the regulator had received a positive response in the ongoing consultation on its new market vision for gaming, which will close in the first week of September and that foresees a gradual end to the remaining gaming monopolies in the Netherlands.

Mr Jansen said he expected the time it would take for legislation to move forward would be enough for monopoly holders such as Holland Casino and Nederlandse Loterij to prepare for competition.

“It’s a long way to go,” he said, concluding: “I trust that at that time the parties that have the state participations will be ready.”

As for current issues, the regulator took a lenient approach to unlicensed bingo during the lockdown but has since intensified enforcement.

It also saw a spike in illegal poker but Mr Jansen expects the regulator will see a return to normal levels now land-based casinos and live sports have returned.

Check out the full interview with Rene Jansen above or on the Focus Gaming News YouTube channel. Don’t forget to subscribe!

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