The new coalition government in the Netherlands just made online gambling legalisation more expensive and complicated (and possibly delayed yet again) by introducing the “physical presence” concept to legislative proposals.
The four coalition partners, VVD, D66, CDA and the Christian Union, have reportedly agreed on the basic concept of forcing licensees to have a Dutch geographic presence, although the detail has yet to be hammered out.
It will need some fancy footwork to avoid conflict with EU law and the European Commission enforcers.
The requirement is briefly covered in the “Confidence in the Future” policy document, which rather vaguely refers to “some form” of physical presence in the Netherlands for licensees without specifying what this may entail.
Observers have pointed out that possibilities range from having to host servers in the country to merely having a presence through a branch office of legal representative.
More cynical commentators believe it could also herald a system whereby only licensed Dutch land operators will qualify for a licence – an even more provocative move in EU terms.
Where does the Dutch industry go from here?
The Remote Gaming Bill approved by the Lower House of the Dutch parliament continues to languish in the Senate, where it has awaited attention for the last year or more (see previous InfoPowa reports). Presumably, now that March's election disruption is over, the new Senate will address the bill by further debating it and working out how to implement the physical presence policy mandate.
Long story short, even the most optimistic commentators are now extending their predictions on the likely implementation of legal online gambling in the Netherlands.