Online Gambling in the Netherlands
The Netherlands is one of a number of EU Members looking to protect its hard line prohibition against foreign online gambling operators from European Commission (“EC”) attempts to foster a single market. Current laws (1964 Gaming Act and relevant amendments) provide that offering games of chance without a Netherlands issued license is prohibited, making state-run lottery provider Staatsloteri the (legal) monopoly operator.
Until recently, prohibitions on foreign online gambling operators were only passively enforced by the government and left to locally licensed operators to prosecute. More recently however, Netherlands authorities have announced intentions to take a more proactive approach to the law’s enforcement with the Dutch Ministry of Justice warning banks they may be prosecuted for facilitating Dutch resident transactions to online gambling firms abroad.
In simple terms, the EC’s position on online gambling is that EU licensed operators should be able to offer their product to all EU residents of countries that offer locally sanctioned/licensed gambling services. Where protectionist measures are place to protect local monopolies, such measures are in breach of EU services law. The Netherlands’ position of restricting foreign gambling operators while permitting online betting at local monopoly operation De Lotto has led to the EC infringement proceedings. The EC’s first letter of notice to Netherlands authorities stated that the prohibition of games of chance not licensed in the Netherlands forms an unjustified restriction to the freedom to provide services (article 49 EC).
Like a number of other EU Members, the EC has threatened to take the Netherlands to the European Court of Justice if protectionist laws are maintained. However in light of the recent ECJ ruling re online gambling in Portugal, such a threat by the EC may not carry the weight it once did.
[Update – December 20 2009]
Ruling on a case brought by Ladbrokes and Betfair against De Lotto, the ECJ Advocate General has supported the view espoused in Portugal’s Bwin v Santa Casa that EU Members are able to enforce monopoly operator rights where such protections are in the public interest. While not binding on the full court of the ECJ, the Advocate General’s decisions are rarely overturned, suggesting Dutch player’s may face a closed market for some time yet.
So what does all this mean for Netherlands players? Well like UIGEA restrictions in the US, current Dutch laws and regulations are aimed at operators and facilitators (banks, ISPs) and not players. However, while the act of gambling online with an operator other than De
Lotto (which incidentally doesn’t currently offer live dealers) is not illegal, accessing these websites and depositing may be problematic.
[Update – July 2014]
The Dutch Remote Gambling Bill was presented to the House of Representatives. If passed, the law will allow operators based anywhere within the European Union or European Economic Area to apply for a Dutch online gambling license. The new law stipulates a 20% gaming tax rate.
[Update – April 2015]
In a letter to the House of Representatives, Klaas Dijkhoff, the newly appointed State Secretary for Security and Justice reaffirmed his support for the Remote Gambling Bill. Predecessor Fred Teeven was the Bill’s architect and protagonist but he was forced out of the position for misleading Parliament over an unrelated matter.
[Update – July 2016]
The country’s lower house of parliament passes the Netherlands Remote Gambling Bill (RGB).
[Update – February 2020]
Four years after being passed in the lower house the RGB is finally passed in the Senate. One provision of the finally approved law that requires all licensees to build a new player database once licensed operations commence. This is to ensure companies operating during the unlicensed period do not have any advantage over competitors.
The long wait for full implementation continues. In the meantime, Dutch Gaming authorities have been more focused on blocking and penalising unlicensed operators than issuing licenses and getting things up and running.
[Update – July 2020]
The RGB has been submitted to the European Commission for review and approval. Implementation of the new law is not expected until 2021.
Best live casinos for Dutch players
The below casinos offer Dutch language website and support capabilities. Some offer toll free phone support for players from the Nederlands. Most of these casinos also offer iDeal, a popular Netherlands payment method.
Toll free support
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|No restrictions on Dutch player sign-ups||No deposit restrictions
Maintain account Euro €
|No||No||Multiple live dealer platforms including many EU based dealer studios|