Dekker exits as Dutch Minister for Legal Protection

| By Daniel O'Boyle
Dutch Minister for Legal Protection Sander Dekker will leave his post on 10 January when the country’s new cabinet takes office, with Franc Weerwind taking his place.

As political parties in the Netherlands worked to create a new cabinet following the March 2021 election, Dekker – a member of the centre-right People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) – announced that he would not form a part of Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s fourth cabinet. 

In his time overseeing the legal system, which started in 2017, Dekker spearheaded the legalisation of online gambling in the Netherlands, through the passage of the Remote Gambling Act, following years of standstill. After a number of delays, the Act came into effect on 1 April 2021, allowing 10 operators to launch from 1 October.

“To prevent and correct injustice: that’s what legal protection is all about, as far as I am concerned. And of course that work is never done,” Dekker said in a social media post announcing his departure. 

“After walking around the Binnenhof for almost ten years, I am going to do something else. What exactly, I don’t know yet. And honestly, that’s what makes it quite exciting.”

Although the VVD remained the largest party after the election, gaining one seat, the role of Minister for Legal Protection will go to Weerwind, a member of centrist party Democraten 66. Weerwind has been mayor of the city of Almere since September 2015.

In a blog post today, Rene Jansen, chair of gambling regulator de Kansspelautoriteit, thanked Dekker for his work in the legalisation of online gambling.

“From this place I would like to thank Sander Dekker, Minister for Legal Protection and therefore responsible for gaming policy, for constructive cooperation in recent years,” Jansen said. “I always say: the KSA is independent in its oversight, but it does not operate in a vacuum. We have always been able to consult each other on policy matters.

“Gaming history has been made with Sander Dekker at the helm. He succeeded in guiding the Remote Gambling Act through parliament. A step that I think is a good one, because it allows us to better protect consumers against the unmistakable risks associated with games of chance.”

Jansen went on to welcome Weerwind to his new role, saying there were “still important steps to be taken” to ensure igaming regulation was a success.

“I look forward to the appointment of the new Minister for Legal Protection Franc Weerwind,” he said. “Legalisation of online gambling was a first important step in the modernization of Dutch gaming policy, but as shown in the government’s policy document for gambling, market regulation and market supervision can be improved from the perspective of the public interest.”

In his blog post, Jansen also looked at the year ahead, warning operators that if they did not reduce their levels of advertising, they may face a legislative crackdown, as “political patience” was wearing thin.

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