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2020: The Year for Getting Ready

Posted on 8 January 2020 by Alan Littler

Great things are expected of 2020 by those with an interest in the Dutch remote gambling market. As the first anniversary of the Wet kansspelen op afstand (Remote Gambling Act) approaches the moment that the full regulatory regime finally springs into life is inching closer. The ebb and flow of political discussion around the upcoming regime will undoubtedly continue, and fresh enforcement cases by the Kansspelautoriteit (Gambling Authority) are certainly not to be excluded. Such dark clouds notwithstanding, to date the reform process has not run aground, and current expectations are that the licensing process should open on 1 January 2021. The next twelve months can be put to good use.

Undoubtedly there will be other moments when headwinds pick-up. The Minister for Legal Protection must revert to parliament regarding a variety of motions, as well as the outcome of his discussions with the Gambling Authority on the “adequacy” of the draft policy rules for the cooling-off period. It is not a foregone conclusion that this will be smooth sailing.

The industry has also faced some choppy waters of late, particularly around the age verification requirement which came in as of 1 January 2020.  No fancy forecasting model is required in order to understand that the Kansspelautoriteit and other stakeholders are watching the remote sector’s actions very closely, or to predict that the lightning bolt of an enforcement case will probably strike. Let’s hope that lightning only strikes once.

Notwithstanding the potential for stormy weather, 2020 is also a year in which the industry can get itself ready for what should prove to be the opening of the remote gambling licensing regime at the start of 2021. All being well, during the months ahead the sector will be in a position to plug gaps in its knowledge as to what the licensing process will look like, to understand exactly how the cooling-off period will take shape, and gain a deeper understanding as to what the substantial and technological requirements of the licensing regime will be. To date, there have been two consultation processes on secondary legislation, the final versions of which have yet to be revealed, and once released they will be subject to parliamentary scrutiny. With the information currently to hand, including that published by the Kansspelautoriteit last November [see here], it remains impossible to navigate through the finer details of the licensing and regulatory regime, as some points are still to be publicly mapped out.

Yet, like many things in life, preparation will be key. Neither is it necessary for everything to be left to the last minute. Once further information about the licensing process and all regulatory details are known, preparations can begin. At a later moment, pre-prepared licensing documentation can be taken out of the fridge in time for the final touches to be added before serving. Just like some dishes, they might also benefit from the passage of a little time to allow the various ingredients to bind together and mature.

Some, given the need to comply with the cooling-off period, will cross the application starting line later than others. It remains to be seen when that will be, each applicant will set sail when they are ready to go. Applicants will have to ensure that they do so at the right time so as to increase their chances of successfully crossing the finishing line, given the need to comply with the cooling-off period. Yet this does not detract from the fact that all applicants can put 2020 to good use by preparing for the moment that they file their application.

Delays have plagued the entire reform process, and whilst they cannot be excluded from rearing their ugly heads again, let’s hope that 2020 is truly the home straight. Licensing has been a distant spot on the horizon for quite some time. It might not prove to be plain sailing for all, but it has every potential to be a well-prepared and thought out voyage. 

René Jansen, Chairman of the Kansspelautoriteit, will be speaking at our Annual Gaming Industry Event on Friday 31st January in Amsterdam. Might it be that the evening sheds a little additional light on what can be expected?

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Alan Littler

Gaming Lawyer

About the author

Dr Alan Littler advises the national and international gambling industry as a member of the Gaming Practice. 

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