The Netherlands – Prohibition on use of pre-existing online players’ database

Early March 2020, an updated draft of the Remote Gambling Decree (Besluit Kansspelen op afstand, available here in Dutch) was sent to Parliament for comments and questions (covered here). Following that publication, the Members of Parliament (MPs) submitted questions . These questions have now been answered by the Dutch Minister for Legal Protection (questions and answers available in Dutch here). We summarise the headlines of these Q&A in as far as the answers reveal new facts or clarifications.  Completely new is the message that it is not allowed to make use of pre-existing databases of Dutch remote gambling players.

 

Prohibition of use of pre-existing database of online players

Without a doubt, the biggest revelation in these Q&A regards the (prohibition of the) use of pre-existing databases of Dutch remote gambling players. Any remote gambling operator that has been previously active in the Netherlands (regardless in which period), and thus has built up a database of Dutch players, may not use such database to offer its newly licensed remote gambling offering to the players included in such pre-existing database.

The Minister stresses that “This means that a remote gambling provider [The Minister refers to  existing operators that at some point have been active on the Dutch market and have built up a database of Dutch players], as well as the new entrants to the Dutch online gaming market, must build up their database of Dutch customers in accordance with the new rules and thus need to start with an empty customer database.

Timelines

The envisaged timeline for entry into force of the Remote Gambling Act was 1 January 2021, with opening of the market six months after on 1 July 2021. Several MPs inquired whether such timeline is still realistic, taking into account the COVID-19 pandemic. Some MPs also pushed for a further delay, also mentioning that land based casino’s and arcades, which now have been closed until further notice, might be hit hard given the fact that they would need to be connected to CRUKS ultimately on 1 January 2021 (and thus having to implement player registration etc.).

The Minister for Legal Protection informed the MPs that the timeline mentioned above is still the prospected timeline. However, he indicated that it cannot be entirely excluded that minor delays might occur due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He stressed that there are currently no indications that such delays might occur, and that he would inform the MPs immediately should that change.

Advertising

MPs have voiced their concern regarding online advertising in relation to the advertising watershed that prohibits gambling advertisements on television between 06.00 hours and 21.00 hours. Furthermore, MPs asked how operators are to prevent that persons under the age of 25 are targeted and role models/celebrities that have a substantial reach under this group are not used for such advertising.

With regard to the first question, the Minister emphasized that there will not be an online advertising watershed as such watershed would be simply unrealistic.

With regard to the targeting of persons under the age of 25 and using celebrities in advertisements, the Minister stated that operators should research inter alia the following elements before engaging a celebrity for advertising: the characteristics of the celebrities’ followers on social media, the audience of series or movies in which the role model/celebrity acts, the audience of the television shows that the celebrity presents or in which the celebrity partakes, the audience that listens to the celebrities’ music, the audience of visitors of the venues where the celebrity performs and the target audience of products or services which the celebrity has previously advertised.

Progress of CRUKS

MPs also asked questions about the progress of CRUKS and the implications for the envisaged timelines. The Minister reiterated that the CRUKS application will be ready mid 2020. The Minister also mentioned that the technical connectivity sessions that were to take place in May 2020, will be likely postponed with one month.

Sharif Ibrahim and Richard van Schaik