A last-minute order by Dutch Legal Protections Minister Sander Dekker has enforced regulator Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) to terminate its ‘cooling-off’ reprieve for unlicensed operators awaiting to join the KOA Regime that will be launched on 1 October.
Yesterday, Dekker informed the Kamer that he had instructed KSA to no longer offer cooling-off rights to unlicensed operators – that should be instructed to cease all Dutch player services from 1 October onwards.
Established as a pre-market provision in 2019, as ministers settled on the final framework to launch the Netherlands new online gambling regime, the ‘cooling period’ was applied to allow unlicensed operators to apply for licences as long as they refrained from actively targeting Dutch consumers.
The cooling period was applied to ensure that the KOA Regime would launch on a ‘level playing field’, with no operator given a pre-market advantage.
Furthermore, KSA outlined that its cooling period would help the market’s long-term channelisation as igaming consumers would likely end-up playing with eventual KOA licensees.
Yesterday, Dekker ordered KSA to terminate its cooling period reprieve, stating that operators awaiting licences should not be exempt from regulatory enforcements or sanctions.
As a result, KSA has been ordered to inform all unlicensed operators to cease their Dutch operations and player engagements, instructing customers to ‘seek licensed alternatives’ from 1 October.
Dekker’s enforcement has drawn criticism, branded as a policy u-turn of KOA’s level playing field arrangements, in which the removal of the cooling period will aid the market’s first domestic participants.
KSA has yet to interpret how it will apply Dekker’s orders to operators awaiting their KOA licensing outcomes. Furthermore, legal observers have cited that foreign operators will hold a right to challenge the order as a drastic change to KOA’s licensing arrangements that had been observed prior to the market’s launch.