René Jansen warns of Dutch gambling’s unsettled affairs 

René Jansen, outgoing Chairman of Kansspelautoriteit (KSA), the Netherlands Gambling Authority, has highlighted the changing political sentiments and discord related to the governance of Dutch gambling.

Observations were detailed by Jansen addressing delegates of the Casino Operations Summit in Amsterdam (23 to 25 April).

Jansen, who will stand down as Chairman of KSA on 1 October, will be succeeded by Michel Groothuizen following a transfer of duties from 1 July.

The outgoing chairman noted: “The gambling sector has received a lot of attention, especially since the opening of the online market.”

As Chairman, Jansen oversaw the launch of the Netherlands’ online gambling market in 2021 under the laws of the Remote Gambling Act (KOA Act) – a framework that is currently subject to intense political scrutiny.

Though the delegates he addressed were primarily focused on land-based gambling activities, Jansen noted that there was no escaping from the current conflicts surrounding the future of the KOA market.

Opening statements referenced last week’s vote by the Dutch House of Representatives (Kamer) to approve motions submitted by reformists to ban online gambling advertising and high-risk online games, categorised as online slots.

As noted by Jansen: “Last Tuesday, no fewer than 10 motions were adopted by a majority of the House of Representatives. This also included motions that outgoing Minister Weerwind advised against. Some of these motions could have far-reaching consequences for the regulation of the online gambling market.”

Though motions are not guaranteed to be determined as laws, Jansen noted: “It is clear, the view of a majority of the House of Representatives on the regulation of the online market has clearly changed. And what the future will look like is still unclear.

“We now have to wait and see what Minister Franc Weerwind’s response will be.”

Irrespective of KOA being in the political and media spotlight, Jansen stands by the work of the KSA in governing Dutch gambling since 2019, taking on the agenda for regulation.

Addressing KOA affairs, Jansen cited that his recommendations had been submitted to Legal Protections Minister Franc Weerwind, calling for enhanced duty of care demands and under-24 protections to be imposed on licensed operators.

Moving discussions onto the next phase of Dutch gambling’s regulatory reorganisation, Jansen detailed that the government must address policies and legal challenges related to monopolies.

Of concern, a recent ruling by the East Brabant District Court questioned the current monopoly system to hold exclusive rights on Instant Win Games. The ruling specifically addresses the refusal by KSA to grant licenses to JVH for lotto-type games, instant lotteries and betting points. 

The District Court disagrees that Nederlandse Loterij (NLO) should reserve exclusive rights on games of chance from the market. In response to the court’s ruling, KSA requested an interim measure to suspend the ruling until a higher court, the Administrative Jurisdiction Division of the Council of State, could make a decision on the appeal.

Jansen concluded that the legal challenge requires broader discussion among policymakers about the rights of monopoly licenses, their impact on Dutch gambling policies and the modernisation of current laws.

“I cannot anticipate the discussion that will take place about this in the Administrative Jurisdiction Division of the Council of State, but I can comment on it in a few words. In the judiciary, the penny can always fall either way, so prepare yourself for both outcomes.”