Online casinos in the Netherlands: the Dutch gambling market
It’s the moment a lot of Dutch players have been waiting for for almost 10 years: the legalisation of online gambling in the Netherlands. The new Remote Gambling Bill allowing online games of chance was adopted in February 2019 after almost a decade of debate and division.
After some small delays, the Remote Gambling Act (Kansspelen op Afstand, Koa) came into effect recently on April 1st, 2021 — officially initiating the licence application process for interested operators.
This means we’ll see the first regulated online casinos opening their virtual doors in the Netherlands on the 1st of October 2021. I believe this will create a rather amusing market situation, as the Dutch gambling authority will allow both Dutch and foreign operators to offer their gambling products.
While I’m optimistic about the next few years, it does remain a bit ironic that a progressive country like the Netherlands is one of the last countries in Europe to allow online gambling. At the same time I’m obviously thrilled about what’s coming, especially because they’re will be a lot of new casinos trying to get their market share. Let’s take a closer look at what to expect from online gambling in Holland.
More info? Find out everything about the Dutch Gambling Law (source in Dutch)
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- Dutch Gambling Authority
- Online Gambling regulations
- Regulation timeline
- Gambling in the Netherlands explained
- Frequently Asked Questions
Gambling in the Netherlands overview
Gambling is legal in the Netherlands under the Betting and Gambling Act 1964 which is a law that was made in the 60’s to regulate gambling. Being written in a time when the internet didn’t exist, the law was obviously outdated by the time the first online casinos emerged. Until the market officially opens up in October 2021, the Netherlands only has a regulated offline gambling market. This market currently consists of a number of gambling products:
- A casino monopoly with 14 land based casinos operated by Holland Casino.
- A state lottery: de Staatsloterij.
- Charity lotteries: de Goede Doelen Loterijen.
- Monopoly on lotto and sports betting: Lotto/Toto.
- Monopoly on horse racing: ZEturf.
- Private operators of 42,000 slot games in arcades, pubs and restaurants.
The total turnover of the legal gambling sector in the Netherlands was more than €2 billion in 2019 of which €500 million was donated to charities while the same amount was designated to the Treasury department. In addition to the offline market, online gambling was legalised in 2019 by The Senate after years of debating that initially started in 2012. The Dutch Gambling Authority Kansspelautoriteit was launched in this same year in order to stop illegal operators from targeting Dutch players and prepare for the legalisation of online gambling. I will tell you more about this organisation as they’ve played a crucial role in the new market situation.
More about lotteries? Check out our complete lottery guide (source in Dutch).
The Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) was established on the 1st of April 2012 in The Hague. The KSA is an independent governance body and the official regulator of all casino games in the Netherlands, both online and offline. The KSA was funded through gaming levies and the prevention of illegal gambling among Dutch players has been one of the main responsibilities ever since it was launched. Before the foundation of the KSA in April 2012 there was another authority that oversaw the gambling market: the Supervisory Board for Games of Chance that was launched in 1996. The former Supervisory board focused on gambling as a whole, rather than on internet gambling. The latter has become one of the main tasks of the KSA after online casinos started gaining popularity. KSA’s key responsibilities are:
- Protecting and informing players.
- Preventing illegal activities.
- Preventing gambling addictions.
More info? Read our full profile about the Kansspelautoriteit (source in Dutch)
Online gambling regulation in the Netherlands
The new Remote Gambling act was approved in 2019 after it first came into attention in 2012, meaning that it took quite some years to get the bill through. Although the Netherlands is one of the latest countries that has legalised online gambling, it was already stated in the coalition agreement of Cabinet Rutte II that the gambling policy was due for reform. In May 2013, 6 years before the final approval, the Remote Gambling Bill (Koa Act) was put on the agenda for the first time. In June 2016, the bill was finally discussed in the House of Representatives and the law was passed on July 7, 2016. It then took yet another three years before the Senate also passed the law: February 19, 2019 was the day the bill was officially accepted.
April 1, 2021: new law comes into effect
The original plan was to let the new gambling law come into effect by mid-2020. Unfortunately, this seemed a bit too challenging. In November 2019, Sander Dekker, the Minister for Legal Protection, informed the Senate and House of Representatives that the Remote Gambling Act would come into force on 1 January 2021. A two-month delay was announced in September 2020, and an additional month of delay was made public in January 2021 — leading to some skepticism among both players and operators. When the official decision establishing the entry into force of the Gambling Act was subsequently published in the government gazette, it finally became clear that the first of April 2021 was indeed going to be the official day the Dutch online gambling market would be regulated.
The long road to legalisation
It’s been a hell of a ride, but we made it eventually. This doesn’t mean, however, that Dutch consumers weren’t able to make a wager online before the new Remote Gambling Act came into effect. Although the market for online gambling in Holland was legalised only recently, Dutch players have been visiting online casinos ever since they opened their virtual doors. At first, players could easily create accounts at online casinos, deposit their funds via iDEAL, withdraw money, and ask questions to Dutch-speaking customer service agents. Adverts for gambling sites and sponsored poker programs were also very common as well on Dutch television. This made the Dutch gambling market — despite not being legalised — an area where illegal operators would dive into, offering their services to unprotected consumers.
More info? Read our full report about the Senate’s decision to legalise online gambling (source in Dutch)
No room for illegal operators
One of the main reasons to regulate the market was to actually offer consumer protection and avoid illegal operators targeting Dutch players. When the plans for regulation became more concrete, the Gaming Authority was given full control to take action against online casinos and other betting sites that actively targeted Dutch players. Initially, this meant that online casinos were no longer allowed to use the Dutch language on their website, nor use a .nl domain, but soon other limitations were added to this list, such as the prohibition of the banking method iDEAL. Other typical Dutch things were also banned, including Dutch flags, excessive usage of the colour orange, and Dutch words and symbols like clogs. Although violations lead to severe financial sanctions, unregulated online casinos have never been blocked online — and still remain accessible to most Dutch internet users. This didn’t mean, however, that online casino websites operating from other countries had a carte blanche.
24 months cooling-off period
On the 3rd of March 2020, the Dutch Minister of Justice submitted the Remote Gambling Decree to the Dutch Parliament’s lower chamber, the House of Representatives. The Decree is basically part of secondary legislation in which the Remote Gambling Bill is further specified. The Decree is made up of the specific conditions applicable to the right to obtain an online gambling licence and lays out essential secondary regulation. In addition to the Decree, the Dutch minister for Legal Protection, Sander Dekker also published two letters in which he addressed questions that were raised in previous parliamentary debates, including a cooling-off period. The cooling-off period basically meant that operators breaching the rules discussed above were going to be submitted to a cooling-off period of 24 months. During this period they wouldn’t be allowed to apply for a Dutch licence as a response to their violations.
Making consumers find legal casinos
Operators that have refrained themselves from targeting Dutch players in the last few years won’t be affected by this cooling-off period and are free to go ahead and apply for a Dutch licence. With the acceptance of new legal operators, the Dutch government wants to encourage consumers to play at legalised online casinos in Holland emphasising the importance of secure gambling, official licences, and responsible playing. In order to do so, the Dutch government works with a so-called channelisation approach (the process of players creating brand awareness and guiding them from illegal to legal online casinos) of 80% after a period of three years. Whether this percentage of 80% — which seems somewhat ambitious to me — will be eventually met, will also strongly depend on the willingness of big, international online casino brands, to apply for a Dutch licence and operate as a regulated casino.
More info? Check out our list of online casinos our casino experts believe will obtain a Dutch licence (source in Dutch).
Timeline online gambling in the Netherlands
- October 1, 2021: online operators will start their activities on the Dutch gambling market, holding a gambling license issued by the Kansspelautoriteit.
- April 19, 2021: the KSA announces there have been 28 applications to date.
- April 1, 2021: operators can apply for a Dutch gambling licence. Application does not guarantee approval and the KSA will need 6 months to handle all the licences.
- February 19, 2020: the Senate votes in favour of the Remote Gambling Bill allowing the legalisation of online gambling in the Netherlands.
- July 7, 2016: the House of Representatives adopts the Remote Gambling bill.
- June 30, 2016: House of Representatives discusses the Gambling Bill.
- July 11, 2014: Council of Ministers agrees to reform gambling policy.
- May, 22, 2013: the Remote Gambling Bill (Kansspelen op Afstand, Koa) is presented for consultation.
- October 29, 2012: coalition agreement Rutte II cabinet first speaks about reforms in the gambling.
Gambling in the Netherlands explained
When taking a closer look at the most popular games of chance in the Netherlands, I’ll need to stick to the same distinction I made between offline and online gambling in order to give you a full understanding about the Dutch gambling market. My colleague Peter Visser already did some in-depth research (source in Dutch) about the most popular games of chance in the Netherlands, using data from an international market research from 2016 that was conducted by Bonamy Finch on behalf of a major online casino. Despite the fact that this research was conducted a few years ago, I do think it still gives valid insights in the Dutch gambling market, its most popular games, and its players. Let’s take a closer look:
Interestingly, the majority of offline gamblers in the Netherlands are female (51%) which automatically means that 49% of the players are male. All together, their favourite game to wager on are scratch cards (53%) while lotto is the second most popular game of chance (32%) followed by slots with 20%. In terms of age, Dutch gamblers in offline settings tend to be a bit older: +60 years for both men and women. The majority of gamblers (51%) spend less than €4,99 on games of chance, while the average spending is €27 per gambler. 28% of the players spend between €5,00 and €19,99 and the smallest portion spends €20 or more.
More info? We’ll tell you everything about Dutch land based casinos (source in Dutch).
Online gamblers have a profile that is completely different: the vast majority of online gamblers are men: 72%. Women are a lot less active in online casinos: only 28% gamble online. The average age in online casinos is a lot lower: in the online gambling market young people between 18 and 29 years old make up for the biggest target group and online players mainly prefer video slots. The lotto, sports betting, poker, scratch cards and table games are also very popular online. The majority of online gamblers (47%) spend more than €30, while the smallest fraction spend less than €9 per month. About 30% of people spend between €10 and €29,99. Among online players, 70% of the Dutch prefer to transfer money with iDeal, 12% of the gamblers prefer to use PayPal, and 5% opt for a bank transfer.
|Most popular games of chance in the Netherlands|
|Slots||20%||Live sports betting||14%|
FAQ online casinos in the Netherlands
What are the most popular online casino games in the Netherlands?
The most popular online casino games in the Netherlands are the lotto (67%), sports betting (23%), live sports betting (14%), scratch cards (13%) and slots (12%). Check out the full list of the 10 most popular casino games in the Netherlands on Casino.nl.
Are online casinos legal in the Netherlands?
The Dutch Senate voted in favour of the new Remote Gambling Bill in 2019 after which the bill came into effect on the 1st of April 2021. Online casinos will be regulated by the Dutch gambling authority as from the 1st of October 2021.
Which online casinos are available in the Netherlands?
The Dutch online gambling market accepts both domestic and international operators. From October 1, 2021 online casinos will be able to offer their gambling products to Dutch players. Once available we will update our page with the list of gambling companies.
Which Dutch online casinos do you recommend?
Online casinos will be available from the 1st of October 2021. Once the Dutch Gambling Authority (Kansspelautoriteit) reveals its list of licenced operators we will update our page.