Dutch Justice Minister orders online operators to wipe existing player databases

Dutch Justice Minister Sander Dekker has announced that operators will have to delete their existing customer databases when they receive a licence for the country’s iGaming market. 

Dekker confirmed that this would be necessary when answering questions from the Netherlands’ government about the Remote Gaming Act.

The Act is set to come into effect from January 2021, with the actual market going live from July. 

This legislation will open up the country’s online gambling market to international brands. 

The question of channelisation 

According to Dekker, having all operators wipe their pre-existing player bases and start from scratch will lead to a more level playing field for all that successfully obtain an operating permit. 

But some members of his People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) disagreed, expressing concerns about whether or not this would really encourage channelisation. It’s estimated that currently, one million gamblers in the Netherlands use unlicensed sites. 

VVD figures argued that ordering licensed operators to wipe their player bases would undermine the key priority of directing players towards legal offerings. 

However, Dekker set out to try and address their reservations. He said that this particular rule was in accordance with the legislative mandate of Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) – the country’s gaming regulator. Prior to making a decision on licence applications, the KSA will perform ‘reliability assessments’ on each operator wishing to expand into the Dutch market. 

While it’s expected that wiping player data will improve channelisation rates in the long run, Dekker admitted that this could be impacted in the short-term. 

To address potential issues related to problem gambling, it was also mentioned that lotteries must be separated from higher-risk online gaming products. 

Getting tough on unregulated operators 

In addition to the strict vetting of licence applicants, the Justice Minister said that the KSA has granted ‘direct powers’ to clamp down further on illegal gambling. 

Operators that violate regulations could have their ISPs and payment services blocked, while those found guilty of advertising illegal sites could be subjected to financial penalties. 

The KSA has been addressing unregulated gambling activity for a while. Last year, Casumo was fined €310,000 after it was found to offer iDeal, a popular payment service in the Netherlands. On top of this, its live chat feature provided answers to questions in Dutch – suggesting that players from this market were being targeted. 

Unethical advertising has also been a talking point in recent months. The governing body discovered that some brands had been utilising terms such as ‘corona-free gambling’ to lure players in after land-based casinos shut their doors. 

In response, the KSA announced that penalties for COVID-19-oriented advertising would be at least €50,000 on top of the already-existing minimum €250,000 penalty for illegal activity. 

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