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LeoVegas set for Dutch re-entry after licence approval

| By Robert Fletcher
LeoVegas Group is to relaunch online gambling in the Dutch market after securing a new licence in the country.
LeoVegas Netherlands

Issued by Dutch regulator Kansspelautoriteit (KSA), the licence will run for a period of five years. 

The permit covers the operator’s 21 Heads Up Limited business and applies to online casino, live casino and sports betting.

LeoVegas said it plans to roll out its services in the country during the second half of this year.

“LeoVegas Group has been granted a gaming licence in the rapidly growing Dutch market,” LeoVegas chief executive Gustaf Hagman said. “We are thrilled to look to the future and fully focus on resuming our Dutch journey.

“The Netherlands has great potential and we look forward to it becoming an important market in our global growth journey.”

LeoVegas returns after two-year absence

LeoVegas was previously active in the Netherlands before the country moved to regulate its online gambling market.

The Dutch regulated online gambling market launched on 1 October 2021, clearing the way for players to legally gamble online.

The day before the market opened, LeoVegas announced that it would be halting activities in the country. This was with the aim of securing a Dutch igaming licence after the market went live.

Operators caught offering gaming services without a licence faced disciplinary action from KSA. This could in turn impact any future licence applications to operate in the market legally.

However, the licence has taken LeoVegas longer to secure than first anticipated. In August last year, the operator said it had hoped to be active again in the Netherlands by autumn 2022.

Speaking at the time, LeoVegas chief executive Gustaf Hagman said the business had applied for a licence in the country.

Betsson exits Netherlands

While LeoVegas looks set to relaunch in the Netherlands, one operator that will not be seen in the country for a while is Betsson.

The business revealed today (20 July) in its Q2 results that it had withdrawn an application for a Dutch licence. The operator said this was due to “significant delays” in the approval process.

The operator has been inactive in the Netherlands for almost two years. Betsson pulled out of the country in September 2021, one day before the country’s regulated igaming market launched – coincidentally at the same time as LeoVegas.

A number of other leading brands have taken a similar path in withdrawing, reapplying for a licence and then re-entering the market. Both Entain and Kindred secured licences last year after pulling out of the country prior to regulation.

Allegations over MGM acquisition

LeoVegas now operates as part of MGM Resorts International after being acquired by the gambling giant last year.

This week, allegations were made against MGM Resorts that it has been using LeoVegas to illegally offer online gambling in Japan. These claims centred on a brand called “Casino Leo”, which has been active in the country. 

According to local media reports, the Society for Considering Gambling Addiction Problems requested MGM’s Osaka IR certification be revoked. The group also reportedly called for any development plans be suspended.

Responding to the allegations, MGM Resorts denied the claims of illegal activities describing them as “groundless”.

The group said prior to acquiring LeoVegas, it requested the operator to block access to its site from within Japan. By doing this, it ensured it acquired LeoVegas based on its business and operating conditions, excluding the Japanese market.

MGM also denied any links with the Casino Leo brand.

“MGM Resorts has always prided itself on promoting responsible gaming at all of our facilities,” MGM said. “We look forward to working closely with all stakeholders to develop a world-class safe integrated resort in Osaka.

“Please note that the allegations made by some groups are groundless and may lead to misunderstandings and are completely unacceptable to MGM.

“Casino Leo is not operated by MGM or LeoVegas. Also, there is no capital relationship with MGM or LeoVegas.”

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