New Online Poker Laws in the Netherlands: What You Need to Know
Up until recently, poker players in the Netherlands could enjoy free access to a great number of international poker sites without any issues. As of October, however, things have changed quite a bit, and it's important to stay up to date with these changes.
Namely, back in April, the Dutch government passed the Remote Gambling Bill, which stipulates that all operators wanting to offer their services in the country must have a local license.
After the six-month transition period, the Act came into full force in October, creating significant changes in the Dutch online poker landscape. In this article, I’ll introduce you to the most important ones and explain what they mean from the players’ perspective.
Only Licensed Operators Allowed
Starting from October 1st, only those operators licensed by the country’s government can legally continue to operate. To start with, the Dutch government issued ten licenses, which means that players still have plenty of options to choose from.
One of the rooms that were quick to grab the opportunity was GGPoker. The operator has been on an expansion path for the past few years, looking to seize a sizeable portion of the international market. To do this, GGPoker needs access to local markets such as the one in the Netherlands.
The room adheres to all rules and regulations set forth by the authorities, making it a completely safe and legal option for players in the country.
GGPoker is definitely one of the top-ranking poker sites in the world right now, offering a variety of options for players of all types.
The latest event open to Dutch players is the operator’s Good Game Series of Poker, featuring $7,000,000 in combined guarantees and low buy-ins ($2.50 – $50), targeting players with smaller poker bankrolls.
Of course, this isn’t the only option for online poker enthusiasts in the country.
There are several other rooms that acquired local licenses and continue to accept players from the Netherlands. To find out more about your options, discover the best bonuses currently on offer, and everything else you need to know, check out legal Dutch poker options on a site like Onlinecasinoground.nl.
Many Sites Hit With a “Cool Off” Period
While GGPoker managed to avoid the wrath of Dutch regulators, many major sites weren’t so lucky. Namely, the authorities have stipulated that all operators who catered to Dutch players in the past without strictly adhering to local regulations would have to endure a “cooling off” period of six months.
What this means is that the likes of PokerStars, Unibet, and other major brands, have to wait for six months to even get a chance to apply for a license. Once this period is over, they'll be able to file for approval with the regulator.
The decision came as somewhat of a surprise. While the new iGaming law was in the making for some time now, it was believed that the operators would be allowed to stay in the market as they apply for the license and wait for the final decision.
However, the KSA, the country’s regulatory body, changed its mind at the last minute, announcing that all operators would have to leave the market as they wait for a license.
In total, the KSA received 29 license applications prior to the new regulation coming into effect. However, they decided to only allow ten, for the time being, prioritizing local sites and international operators that have not been fined in the past.
What’s in the Future for Dutch Online Poker?
As of right now, the future of online poker in the Netherlands looks good, albeit players have access to fewer options. While some rooms had to temporarily leave the market, there are still several very good options to choose from.
It's also likely that sites like PokerStars will be coming back in the near future. The Netherlands is one of the more attractive European markets, and gaming operators want to have a presence here.
Of course, there is no telling if the KSA will be willing to issue more licenses moving forward as they have full discretion in the matter.
If they decide there is no need for new operators, some companies could be out of luck even after the cool-off period expires.
It will be interesting to see how things develop moving forward and if there are any important regulatory changes along the way. At the moment, this doesn’t seem likely as the KSA has achieved its primary goals and will be in no rush to open to new prospects.
Changes in the Netherlands are another sign of things to inevitably come in the near future. There will be more and more countries passing local regulations and putting pressure on the operators to play by local laws.
This includes things such as using local payment methods and closely following responsible gaming guidelines.
In the long run, these changes should be positive, creating a safer and more transparent environment. Short-term, though, they can create problems for the players, as they get cut off from their favorite rooms and forced to make a transition.