Industry queries Dutch betting restrictions

24 September 2019

The consultation on the Netherlands’ secondary regulations for online gaming has raised concerns about proposed restrictions on betting on certain sports and in-play wagering, with contributors warning these may push players towards unlicensed operators.

The secondary regulations, published for comment in July, set out restrictions on certain bet types, such as win/loss markets for individual games and sets in tennis, and markets on fouls, throw-ins, corners and cards in football.

Rory Raine, international development officer for bet365, warned that this could have “a detrimental effect on the attractiveness of the licensed offering” to the extent that customers may migrate to unlicensed sites offering such bet types.

Raine noted that “a significant percentage” of bet365’s in-play bets for the 2019 men’s final at Wimbledon were placed on invidiual games or sets.

“This highlights a very strong desire to bet on this type of market and would suggest that the lack of opportunity to do so throughout the licensed market could severely jeopardise channeling rates,” he explained. “A more appropriate measure could be to consider a ban on betting on winning or losing individual points.

“Winning or losing individual points would be easier to manipulate than an entire game or set and therefore should be included on the list of events prohibited from betting instead of and in place of individual games or sets.”

This was supported by the International Betting Integrity Association (IBIA), which warned that the restrictions would prove “counterproductive” in trying to channel players towards legal offerings.

It added that the claim that such markets were targeted for manipulation was untrue, noting that fixers tended to focus on influencing the final result of a match or event.

“The process of restricting betting and providing lists of approved events and bet types, and the constant review and updating of that approach, invariably involves additional administrative and monitoring cost burdens on both the regulatory authority and its licensed operators,” the IBIA explained.

"Such practices are of questionable positive integrity impact given the limitations of any national level approach in a fragmented global market of differing regulatory models for gambling.”

bet365 also took exception to the planned ‘whitelist’ of approved sports for betting. It noted that the current list only contained nine sports and missed out popular betting events such as American football, baseball, boxing and golf. Instead, it suggested, the Kansspelautoriteit should select which sports players should be allowed to bet on based on each event or tournament’s governing body’s integrity policy.

The restrictions on bonuses, which must not be offered while a player is gambling, were then queried by the trade association for Dutch igaming operators, Speel Verantwoord. It described the bonus restrictions as much stricter than those imposed in other European markets, and warned that this would leave licensees without a useful player acquisition tool. This, in turn, could hinder efforts to channel customers towards legal offerings, the association’s director Peter-Paul de Goeij warned.

bet365, meanwhile, queried the complete ban on gambling advertising during live sports. Raine said this was too restrictive, and would unfairly penalise operators with no existing business in the Netherlands. Instead, he suggested, a whistle-to-whistle advertising ban similar to the UK would be preferable.

Raine also suggested that restrictions on the size and placement of online ads would be more effective than a total ban, and called for a rethink on the prohibition of advertising on pitchside hoardings.

“Perimeter board sponsorship is very important for creating non-intrusive brand awareness, particularly for those operators who have not previously accepted bets from customers in the Netherlands,” he explained. “We strongly recommend that this is allowed but that the messaging could be controlled by effective regulation - company name only, no mention of bonuses etc.”

This was echoed by Speel Verantwoord in its response.

The Dutch government now plans to assess the suggestions gathered through the consultation, and whether to make changes to the secondary regulations. The final proposal will then be drawn up, with the view to having it ratified by the country’s legislature and brought into effect from 1 July, 2020. The KSA would then be able to begin processing licence applications with the market scheduled to open for business from 1 January, 2021.