Gaming & gambling

Will esports betting be allowed to gain a foothold on the Dutch online gambling market after the entry into force of the Remote Gambling Act?

Posted on 24 July 2020 by Chris Adriaansz

Sports betting operators have had a difficult few months. Esports betting, on the other hand, seems to have suffered less from lockdown limitations. Therefore, betting on esports is undoubtedly an attractive niche for some operators and sports betting fans. The question is whether  esports betting in the Netherlands will be permitted after the entry into force of the Remote Gambling Act.

Once the Remote Gambling Act enters into force, it becomes possible for many parties to apply for a licence to offer remote gambling services.  However, certain categories of bets will remain prohibited, as these bets are unlikely to meet all conditions of the new regulatory regime. One of those betting categories that is unlikely to meet all conditions right away is ‘esports betting’. Esports betting consists of betting on competitions between participants in various computer games. Well-known esports competitions can be found amongst strategy games (Starcraft II, Dota, and League of Legends), and shooter games (Counter-Strike, Call of Duty and Fortnite). The recent boom in esports betting has been overwhelmingly led by sports titles rather than traditional shooter and strategy titles. Esports matches are broadcasted worldwide and are watched by millions of fans.

In other countries, betting on esports competitions is permitted in the same manner as ‘regular’ sports betting. However, the Remote Gambling Decree (published on 3 March 2020) notes that  esports do not yet fulfill the definition of a sporting contest . Esports competitions are not (yet) controlled by an umbrella organisation (i.e. sports federation). As such, the integrity of the competition is not adequately ensured. For this reason, esports betting in the Netherlands will remain prohibited after the entry into force of the Remote Gambling Act.

However, the Remote Gambling Decree does not fully exclude esports betting from the scope of licensable activities.  A prerequisite for this is that esports competitions join (global) sports federations, just like regular sports. These federations have to make sure that esports competitions are organised with due observance of the safeguards against the manipulation of sporting contests. Furthermore, esports are required to be organised in a responsible, reliable and verifiable manner. As such, the Remote Gambling Decree left the door ajar for a licensed esports betting offer. On 9 July 2020, the Netherlands Gambling Authority confirmed this possibility. In its Market Vision on games of chance (which we reported on last week), the Netherlands Gambling Authority notes that it does not rule out the future recognition of esports competitions – by sports federations. However, any future recognition of esports should include guarantees on the integrity of the competition.  Until that time, esports betting in the Netherlands remains prohibited – even after the entry into force of the Remote Gambling Act.

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Chris Adriaansz


About the author

Chris Adriaansz is an associate at the Gaming & gambling Practice Group of Kalff Katz & Franssen.

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