For the last decade or so, the legality of online poker in the Netherlands has been a source of confusion. While technically illegal, online poker sites — including major ones like PokerStars — have operated without issue. But the path to legal poker was finally paved in February of 2019 when the Dutch Senate adopted the “Remote Gambling Bill.” That bill stipulated that it would award licenses to gaming companies in 2021, and those licenses were finally granted on Wednesday. GGPoker is among the most noteworthy recipients.
The Netherlands Gaming Authority Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) has approved 10 operators for licenses to offer “games of chance” on the internet. The 10 operators that have been awarded licenses are: Betent BV, Bingoal Netherlands BV, FPO Netherlands BV, Hillside (New Media Malta) Plc (Bet365), Holland Casino NV, LiveScore Malta Limited, NSUS Malta Limited (GGPoker), Play North Ltd, Tombola Limited, and TOTO Online BV.
The Gaming Authority received a total of 29 applications and approved only 10 of them. The KSA is expecting to approve more operators in the future, but they will clearly be holding the operators that apply to a certain standard before granting them a license.
To protect their new legal operators, the Netherlands government has announced its plans to crack down on websites that have been offering illegal online gaming to Dutch customers. Minister for Legal Protection Sander Dekker has instructed the KSA to enforce basic fines of €600,000 to unlicensed gambling operators that continue to do business in the country after November 1. Larger fines including a percentage of overall turnover could be levied against illegal operators that generate a turnover of over €15 million a year.
PokerStars is one of the major players being forced to exit the Dutch market due to these new potential fines. The popular poker site could eventually return to the Netherlands if it is approved for a license to operate in the country legally, but that could take a while. PokerStars will have to wait at least six months after its suspension of activities to apply for a license, and the approval process will take months longer. This will give GGPoker a massive head start in the space of providing legal online poker to Dutch players.
Holland Casino could also be popular
It will be interesting to see how Holland Casino’s entrance into online poker goes. Holland Casino is the country’s only land-based casino with fourteen physical locations around the country. The casino created a partnership with Playtech back in 2013 in anticipation of this eventual move to online gaming and is expected to launch a new skin on Playtech’s iPoker network this Friday.
“Together with online gaming software company Playtech,” the Holland Casino said in a statement released on Wednesday, “a wide range of online games of chance has been developed. Where Dutch people can go starting on October 1 for games of chance such as live casino, sports betting, casino slot machines and poker.”
The iPoker network is currently the 10th largest international poker network in the world. While Holland Casino Online won’t be able to compete with the player pool and tournament offerings of a major operator like GGPoker, it could still wind up doing well among Dutch poker players due to cross-promotion with the physical locations.
Featured Image Credit: Twitter – GGPoker