Dutch gaming policy will be modernised

The legal offer of games of chance will be expanded. State Secretary Teeven intends for Dutch gaming policy to move with the times. He therefore wishes to investigate how more providers can be admitted to the gaming market. New plans have been announced for games of chance offered via the Internet, lotteries, gaming machines, poker, sports betting and bingo. Part of the money that will be generated by these measures will be spent on sports. The State Secretary informed the Lower House of the above today, also on behalf of his counterpart at the Ministry of Finance.

New gaming policy

Teeven wishes to create responsible, safe and contemporary gaming policy. The emphasis of said policy will not be on restricting possibilities on the gaming market, but it will create new possibilities for both providers and consumers. Teeven is of the opinion that a suitable and attractive offer of games of chance should be available to consumers, while it is at the same time very important that vulnerable groups are protected against risks to the greatest extent possible. By setting strict rules, Teeven intends to minimise the risk inherent in games of chance, such as addiction, fraud and crime, but he also wants to move with the times by providing players with a varied and legal offer of games of chance.

Online games of chance

Currently, the Betting and Gaming Act (WoK) prohibits offering games of chance if no licence has been granted for this purpose and the law does not yet offer possibilities for playing games of chance on the Internet. Offering games of chance on the Internet is therefore not legal in the Netherlands, while each year hundreds of thousands of Dutch citizens participate in online games of chance, such as poker on websites offering games of chance. Including a licensing system for online games of chance in the WoK will ensure that consumers are able to play online games of chance legally and more control can be exercised over the providers of such games. Teeven wants to make it possible in the Netherlands to obtain a licence for offering online games of chance, such as poker, bingo and sports betting.

Various Member States of the European Union have already set up a legal system for offering games of chance via the Internet or are at an advanced stage of the implementation of such a system. In France, for example, the possibility has been created to grant licences for offering poker, sports betting and bets on horse races online. Teeven intends his plans to bring the Netherlands in line with this international trend.

Competition

In addition to the regulations in the field of online games of chance, the State Secretary wishes to encourage competition - where the interests involved permit this - by making it possible for more parties to obtain a licence. Currently, the WoK provides that only one licence can be granted for a number of categories of games of chance, such as Holland Casino. Teeven wants to be able to deviate from the above and investigate whether more competition can be created with respect to instant lotteries, sports bets, the totalisator and gaming casinos. This will lead to more competition in the market. This will benefit the consumer, whereby his interests are guaranteed in regulations in an adequate manner.

Poker, gaming machines and promotional games of chance.

In addition to online poker, Teeven also wants to create possibilities to regulate the small-scale offer of poker at physical locations at the municipal level, similarly to the manner in which so-called small games of chance are regulated in the WoK. Teeven will also clarify the regulations for gaming machines and make them less independent of technology. He will also investigate whether it is possible in some cases to pay in cash or using debit cards. Teeven furthermore wishes to clarify the Code of Conduct for Promotional Games of Chance by making more detailed agreements concerning the exploitation costs of promotional games of chance (such as voting by text message during talent shows).

Sports

In cooperation with the Ministry of Finance, a part of the proceeds of lotteries and online games of chances will be spent on sports, as agreed in the coalition agreement. In consultation with the State Lottery and the Ministry of Finance, the consequences that a possible reduction of the prize money may have on the turnover of the State Lottery and the payments to the State are being investigated. The first option is to reduce at the State Lottery the percentage of the money put in that is paid out in prizes in favour of sports. A second possibility would be to allow a limited number of extra draws at other lotteries, including lotto.

Part of the money that becomes available for sports via games of chance will be used to make sports safer. This will be elaborated in greater detail in cooperation with the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport.

Amendment of the WoK and introduction

Teeven wants to promote that licences for national games of chance are granted in future in a consistent, transparent and non-discriminatory manner. As regards lotteries, a legal basis for the above will be created soon in the WoK.

The Gaming Authority to be formed will supervise the transparent granting of licences and compliance with gaming legislation.

In order to achieve the modernisation of gaming policy, an accelerated legislative process will be introduced, whereby a licensing system for a broad offer of games of chance via the Internet is introduced. In addition, a legal basis for the transparent granting of licences for lotteries that support charities will be created and an open licensing system for not-for-profit lotteries. Teeven hopes to present this bill to the Lower House later this year.

In order to give current and future lottery licence holders sufficient time to prepare for the new situation, Teeven has decided to stop issuing licences within the current system on 31 December 2014. Any new system will therefore not become effective sooner than 1 January 2015.