A new Dutch government assessment on regulator De Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) deemed the body's capacity to combat unlawful internet gambling to be "very limited," but stopped short of suggesting that it be given extra resources to do so.
The government commissioned the report, which was created by the consultant Kwink Groep. It examined the KSA's activities from 2017 to 2021, a time period characterised by preparations for - and eventual opening of - the Dutch online gambling market.
According to the report, the KSA has focused a significant portion of its enforcement resources to combating unlawful internet gaming.
However, it stated that many market participants believed the organisation should do more to prevent businesses from doing business in the Netherlands without a licence.
"he Ksa’s enforcement actions focused on illegal online offerings," according to the report. "However, market parties and other government organisations consider that the Ksa continues to pay insufficient attention to countering unlawful supply."
"According to market participants, providers in Malta and Curaçao, for example, were and continue to be allowed to illegally provide their services in the Netherlands."
Tools for combating illegal gambling in the Netherlands
According to the research, additional actions that could be performed include the use of payment and website restriction.
“They believe that the KSA could and can do more about this, for example by urging telecom parties to shut down illegal websites or payment service providers not to provide payment services to illegal providers,” it said. “With the entry into force of the Koa [Remote Gambling] Act, the provision of payment services to online offerings without a license is explicitly prohibited and the Ksa can take enforcement action against this.
“Providers believe that the KSA still makes too little use of this option.”
According to the report, one of the main reasons for this was that the KSA was under-resourced.
“Various licensed parties find it strange that they paid a gambling levy in that period, but that they ‘received little in return’ in the form of guidance from the KSA,” it said.
It was observed that the KSA agreed that resources were a problem.
“The KSA acknowledges that the capacity is too limited, and that if the enforcement capacity is expanded, more can be done to tackle illegal gambling practices and undermining,” it said.
The report noted that a shortage of resources would force the regulator to make difficult decisions. However, it stated that it was not always evident whether the decisions it made were the best ones because the methods for determining how to deploy its resources were not always transparent.
“It is understandable that the KSA had to make choices,” it said. “It is important, however, that the KSA can properly substantiate and justify such choices.”
The report made several suggestions to the KSA, three of which were linked to prioritisation.
These included strengthening its risk-based supervision procedures, improving monitoring of the usage of various supervisory instruments, and adopting a more data-driven approach.
The regulator stated that initiatives in this approach are already being taken.
“The Ksa is already working concretely on strengthening risk-based supervision,” it said. “The first results of this are visible, but the ambition of the Ksa goes further.
“For example, a Ksa-wide structure is being set up to continuously identify, qualify and prioritize risks. The Ksa will also involve its stakeholders more in the assessment of the risks. This is happening, for example, with the Supervisory Agenda 2023, which will be published early next year.”
However, the report did not advocate for the KSA to have additional resources to combat unlawful online gaming. It instead only advised this for the land-based sector.
Next steps for the KSA
Chair of the KSA Rene Jansen went on to say that the body would now consider what other steps it could take.
“The evaluation gives the Ksa good recommendations on how it can improve its effectiveness and efficiency. They fit in particularly well with the professionalization that the organisation has already started.”
“The challenge now is to formulate what further steps the KSA will take in the coming period towards supervision and enforcement based on data”.
Market developments in the Netherlands
Aside from the announcement on cashback benefits, there have been a number of other significant occurrences impacting Dutch gambling legislation in the last week. To begin, the Kansspelautoriteit fined Toto Online €400,000 (£343,793/$415,307) for directing advertisements to young persons in the country.
According to the KSA, Toto Online, which is owned by Nederlandse Loterij, sent mails to its entire customer base between October 1, 2021, when the Kingdom legalised online gambling, and February 1, this year.
The decision came after the KSA took action against a number of operators, determining that they had violated numerous rules. According to KSA, the offences occurred in the run-up to the 2022 World Cup.
Last Monday, the Dutch government issued a memo dated 2021, disclosing that a number of internet operators were being investigated for unpaid taxes dating back to when the Netherlands allowed online gambling. It stated that the companies in question were based in the Netherlands in practise but had their legal tax base overseas.
By fLEXI tEAM