Licences to enter the Dutch regulated online market could not be available until the start of 2018, according to the Netherlands Gaming Commission.
[dropcap]O[/dropcap]riginally penned in 2014, the Remote Gambling Bill has had a rocky trajectory through Parliament, marred by fierce lobbying and bitter disputes over tax rates for land-based and online businesses. In July 2016 – almost a full two years after it was originally put to legislators – the Bill passed through the Lower House, where it now awaits approval by the Senate.
According to regulators, operators hoping to obtain a remote gaming licence in the country could now be in for another long wait before the licences become available in a regulated market.
Speaking at an industry event, hosted by senior companies including SBTech, Marja Appelman from the Netherlands Gaming Authority revealed that regulators were now aiming for the start of 2018 as the opening date for the regulated market.
“If I had a magic wand, I would like to really speed up things,” she told attendees.
It is obvious there are forces in Parliament that seek to deliberately frustrate the process.
In a further frustration for businesses, legal experts have also pointed to the possibility of the Bill being shelved if it isn’t discussed in the Senate before the end of Spring.
“Once a new government is in the process of being formed and, for instance, a Christian party claims the Ministry of Security and Justice, it is not unthinkable that this particular piece of legislation will be put on hold,” said Bert Bakker, a lawyer at Meines Holla and Partners. “It is obvious there are forces in Parliament that seek to deliberately frustrate the process.”
Aspects of the Bill – such as the 29 percent gaming tax – remain controversial for industry stakeholders, who have argued that the high rate is uncompetitive and counter-productive in the fight against the black market. One of the main aims of the legislation is to engineer an 80 percent challenisation away from unregulated operators towards the safer regulated market. The proposed rate of 29 percent GGR – the costs of which could be pushed onto consumers – “will not have a positive effect on the channelization rate,” Appelman admitted.