Poker news | Dec 02, 2021
PokerStars Forced Out of the Netherlands
By RTR Dennis
PokerStars has been forced out of the Dutch online gambling market. Along with many other online operators, it has been serving the Netherlands without a license for years.
Kansspelautoriteit (KSA), the country’s gambling governing body, ordered all online gambling sites to stop accepting Dutch players by Oct. 1, 2021. It also warned operators to quit serving existing Dutch customers by Nov. 1. KSA promises swift legal action if its requests continued to be ignored.
The Netherlands now has a licensed online gambling market, which is in the early stages. It expects any operator that serves its residents to obtain proper licensing and pay the necessary fees and taxes.
Minister for Legal Protection Leads Charge Against Unregulated Gambling
Sander Dekker, the country’s Minister for Legal Protection, has issued instructions to the KSA. He wants the gambling authority to go after any unregulated gambling sites operating in the Netherlands.
KSA’s threat to PokerStars and others is the first step in this process. The next step will involve issuing huge fines to unlicensed online gambling sites that continue ignoring KSA.
The previous fine for unregulated gaming was already large at €150,000. However, Dekker has asked KSA to increase the fine to €600,000.
The €600k fine applies to any operator that has a turnover worth less than €15 million per year. Gambling sites that make more than this amount are required to pay a penalty worth 4% of their annual turnover.
Remote Gambling Act Paves Way for Licensed Dutch Online Gambling Market
In April 2021, the Netherlands passed the Remote Gambling Act. This act officially legalized online gambling in the country and required operators to hold licensing.
The Remote Gambling Act calls on all unregulated gambling sites to go through a “cooling off” period. They’ll then have an opportunity to re-enter the market after this waiting period.
KSA wants such operators to sit out at least six months before applying for licensing. This six-month waiting period is small compared to what certain other jurisdictions require. As of 2013, Nevada, for example, requires operators to cool off for 10 years before applying.
When Will PokerStars Be Available Again in the Netherlands?
PokerStars will now need to wait out the necessary six months. Additionally, it’ll have to apply for a license and wait for approval.
Industry analysts expect the application and approval process to be longer than six months. Therefore, PokerStars might not be back in the Netherlands until late 2022 at the earliest. More realistically, it won’t have a chance at serving Dutch players until early 2023.
KSA began accepting applications from operators on April 1, 2021. It reported that 28 companies and paid a €48,000 fee. KSA expects to receive around 40 applications and plans on approving about 35 of them.
PokerStars wasn’t eligible to apply due to the fact that it continued serving the Netherlands without licensing. On the other hand, GGPoker—a big industry rival to Stars—left the Dutch market two years ago. It’s now eligible to apply for licensing in the Netherlands at any point.