All unlicensed online poker operators, including brands like PokerStars, Unibet and Bwin, have been ordered to leave the Dutch gambling market. They must stop accepting new players from October 1st, 2021, and leave the market altogether by November 1st.
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The KSA’s Orders
De Kansspelautoriteit (the country’s gambling regulator, the KSA) was given the order by Sander Dekker, Netherland’s Minister for Legal Protection. He also gave the KSA the authority to impose fines on any operator that does not meet the deadlines laid out above.
On November 1st, fines for violating these terms start at €600,000. Prior to this date, basic fines were €150,000, marking a sharp increase to show how serious Dekker and the KSA really are.
The fines will apply to operators with a turnover of €15 million per year. Any operators with a turnover exceeding €15 million will face a fine of 4% of their turnover.
Following The Remote Gambling Act
The announcement that unlicensed operators must exit the Dutch market comes after the Remote Gambling Act was passed in April 2021. This law has legalized online gambling in the Netherlands, but requires all operators to obtain licenses before they can accept players from the country.
What this means is that PokerStars, Unibet, Bwin and all other unlicensed poker operators will have to leave the market before being able to obtain a license. They will have to undergo a six-month cooling-off period after they exit.
Six months seems to be a reasonable amount of time, as some jurisdictions have imposed much longer suspension periods. For example, Nevada’s cool-off period for unlicensed operators was 10 years!
“I consider it important and obvious that providers who do not yet have a license terminate all their offer for Dutch players in the short term” – Dekker stated in his letter to the House of Representatives.
Since he mentioned ‘short-term’, these companies will be able to apply for licenses at some point. However, there’s no telling how long it will take, as most companies that hoped to enter the Dutch online gambling market have already applied months ago.
Which Online Poker Rooms Will Be Licensed in Netherlands?
Applications for online gaming operators in the Dutch market were opened on April 1st. 28 companies submitted applications with a €48,000 application fee, but the KSA has yet to announce who has been successful as the board will only begin approving applications starting October 1st, 2021.
Since big name brands like PokerStars and Unibet have remained operating, they will be unable to launch their online poker products in the Dutch gambling market along with the first batch of licensees.
PartyPoker and GGPoker are likely to be among the first online poker sites to go live in the Netherlands. In December 2020, PartyPoker exited the market while GGPoker left years ago. Neither company has been confirmed as a potential licensee – but, it’s very likely that they have their eyes set on the Dutch online poker world.