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The Netherlands

The local regulator will monitor 25 gambling websites. It will check whether they follow the clauses of the new legislature that came into force on October 1. Now all the offshore websites that do not have a Dutch license must block gamblers from the Netherlands. Previously, operators only needed to avoid specifically targeting the Dutch citizens. The possible sanctions from the regulator may apply not only to the operators of the websites but also to third parties such as payment service providers and advertisers who promote the sites.

As the new legislature came to force, a number of major operators announced that they would block Dutch customers. Entain said the move would cost it approximately £5m per month in earnings, while Kindred said it would be hit for around £12m. Other operators to block Dutch customers included LeoVegas, Betsson, Casumo and 888. However, the regulator noted that many other operators still accept Dutch customers.

An objective of the law is to “channel” players from illegal to legal providers. Currently, only 10 operators are licensed to offer online gambling in the Netherlands.

Ivan Kurochkin’s comments

Following the issue of the first licenses, the Dutch regulator further intensifies its fight against illegal operators through a more thorough monitoring of the selected 25 unlicensed websites that are not supposed to accept players from the Netherlands.

Unfortunately, it remains unclear as to which operators have come under the scrutiny by the Dutch regulator — the ones that are planning to enter the Dutch market or the ones that do not operate directly in the Dutch market, yet target Dutch citizens.

What is also peculiar is that along with the possible liability for the operators themselves, the regulator also implies liability for payment systems and affiliates involved in promoting a particular operator's website.

It is no secret that monitoring (and subsequent blocking) of offshore operators' websites is one of the more popular methods (albeit not always successful) of combating illegal gambling. This method is actively being used by law enforcement authorities in countries like Poland, Romania, and Spain.

At the same time, in a number of countries, identifying an offshore website belonging to any of the brands may result not only in potential liability for the operator, but also the further possibility of obtaining a license in such a market. Such provisions are contained both in the legislation of European countries (for example, the Netherlands, Romania), and in the legislation of some states in North America (for example, New Jersey).

In any case, the activity of the Dutch regulator displays confidence that the government takes gambling regulation seriously and has already started to test some of the methods of dealing with the offshore operators’ websites.


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