Outgoing Dutch regulators’ fury at online gaming deadlock
The outgoing heads of the Netherlands’ gambling regulator have taken a parting shot at politicians who have failed to pass gambling regulations during their six years in office.
Chairman Jan Suyver (pictured left) and vice-chairman Henk Kesler (right) left Kansspelautoriteit last week, replaced by René Jansen and Bernadette van Buchem. Suyver and Kesler arrived at the regulator in 2012 on the understanding that the Remote Gaming Bill would soon be passed and that their task would be to oversee a regulated market and combat illegal supply.
Six years later and the legislation remains in limbo in the Senate, while it is estimated that one million Dutch citizens are regularly using unregulated, unlicensed websites.
After leaving their posts last week – shortly after Joop Pot replaced Marja Appelman as CEO – Suyver and Kesler have gone public with their frustrations, and the publishing of an interview with them on Kansspelautoriteit’s website suggests the regulatory body itself will not stay quiet about the impasse.
“Unfortunately, we were not allowed to do what we wanted to do,” Kesler said. “For that reason I do not look back with great satisfaction.
“A nice organisation has been set up, but politics has not delivered what we were promised at the start of the Gaming Authority: a toolbox to steer online gambling on a regulated market.
“I've become pretty cranky now and again. There is a lot of complaining in the Lower House, but they should get along with the necessary legislation.”
Kesler believes more government resources could have been directed towards the passage of the act, explaining that progress was sometimes stymied by the slow response to parliamentary questions. However, he is optimistic that the government will pursue the implementation of the legislation as it was mentioned in the coalition agreement.
Suyver said politicians must forget their ideological or moral opposition to gambling, accept that people will do it legally or illegally and look to create a framework that protects them – following the lead of countries such as Denmark and Sweden.
Suyver said: “The consumer simply has the right to be protected. I always say: even though you are against gambling, that cannot be a reason not to arrange it. Rather, on the contrary, I would say.”
Speaking earlier this year about the appointment of Jansen and Van Buchem, the regulator said in a statement: “The Gaming Authority sees Jansen and van Buchem as the right people to continue the course taken by the Kansspelautoriteit and to lead the organisation through the planned modernisation of the gaming policy.”
While the lower house of the Dutch parliament approved the Remote Gaming Bill in 2016, it is still awaiting Senate approval.
In June, the country’s coalition government stated its intention to push ahead with the process, with the aim of introducing new regulations by 2020.