Many European countries made online sports betting and casino play legal years ago, and in some cases, decades ago. But The Netherlands was one of few countries on the continent that has been more cautious about allowing online gambling. That was until October 1st 2021, when the nation made a U-turn. It created a fully regulated online gambling market which now allows players to play at online casinos and place sports bets safely.
The launch of a newly regulated market hasn’t just gathered the attention of locals wanting to use gambling services. It has propped ears among leading casino game providers and sportsbook companies. Whenever a newly regulated market emerges, it’s a race to see who can grab the largest market shares, which has also been seen in the recent legalisation of sports betting in the USA and Canada. SmashCasinos is one of many reputable casinos looking to penetrate the recently launched market, stating that “It’s an interesting market with lots of potential for the future”.
The Netherlands’ journey to a regulated online gambling market has been painfully slow, with multiple delays pushing back the launch. The Remote Gambling Act (KOA) was delayed numerous times. It was initially meant to be enacted on July 1st 2020, so the market could launch at the beginning of 2021. But this was delayed by six months, so the market would only be able to launch in the middle of 2021. Two more delays – one due to the pandemic – meant the enactment could only be pushed through for an October 2021 launch date.
Strong start for the new gambling market
The new gambling market has started well. Initially, there were ten gambling companies cleared with a license prior to the launch date, meaning they could offer services from the get-go and try to capitalise on a less crowded market. And on the day of the launch, many other operators have made their applications for a Dutch gambling license. Licenses will be awarded or rejected by a specific body called KSA, just like in other countries with regulated markets.
Since October 2021, the chair of KSA stated that 634,000 online gambling accounts had been created. However, some players may have multiple accounts with different vendors, so it is more likely that the market has attracted fewer than 634,000 players.
Although earlier estimates had anticipated closer to 1 million new players, the number of hours spent on gambling websites has significantly increased. And this is in spite of a heavy crackdown on illegal gambling operators. One possible reason for the uptake is the legalisation of the market. People may feel more confident in gambling when they know they’re using regulated websites that hold a local gambling license.