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How the Dutch Gambling Act changed the market for poker affiliates

(ROBERT SULLIVAN/AFP via Getty Images)

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On October 1st of 2021, the Dutch Remote Gambling Act “Kansspelen op Afstand” came in effect. With this act it became legal for providers of games of chance, such as online poker sites. They are now legally allowed to offer their online products to customers in the Netherlands.

Providers were able to apply for licenses under strict conditions. These conditions are set to create a safe environment for people that want to play online games of chance. They are meant for the prevention of addiction and marketing to recruit new customers.

It took a long time for affiliates to work legally in the Netherlands

This long-awaited legalization for online poker in the Netherlands shook the market for affiliates. Because of this, affiliates are no longer allowed to promote unlicensed online poker sites.

When this new law came in effect, there were only ten providers that received a license, while over 30 providers applied. As of October 1st, everything changed. This also meant that as of this day, many affiliates had to change their offerings. They were forced to remove listings from sites that for one or another reason did not receive a license. It came down to a few providers, including bet365, Holland Casino and TOTO, that can be promoted.

As of now, a total of 16 providers received a license in the Netherlands. More providers will see their request for a license being granted during the last two quarters of this year, or early 2023.

Some affiliates will survive, others won’t

Some affiliates had to start their businesses from scratch. They are missing out on payments from providers with whom they have worked with. Some affiliates lost thousands of leads that were built over a decade and had to lay off employees.

An affiliate earns a revenue share from the profit made of their leads. Unfortunately for them, providers were forced to immediately stop all their marketing to recruit Dutch customers. Poker sites had to provoke access to existing clients in the Netherlands, including those tracked to generate revenue for affiliates.

Affiliate sites such as PokerKamers.nl went all-in and adhered to the Dutch Gambling Act. Affiliates that fully comply take the benefit of the changes and have a chance to establish themselves in the Dutch market.

Did the act make illegal online poker sites disappear?

While most providers withdrew from the Netherlands, the act didn’t scare all unlicensed poker sites out of the market. The Netherlands Gaming Authority “Kansspelautoriteit” continuously monitors web traffic and social media for illegal online providers of games of chance.

Unlicensed online poker sites will be fined

There are still a few unlicensed online poker sites that are still accessible within Dutch territory. The “Kansspelautoriteit” acts against these illegal sites with cease-and-desist orders. They can be fined up to an amount of 4.5 million euro.

Fines are determined as follows:

  • Turn-over of more than 15 million euro: fine will be 4% of the turn-over
  • Turn-over of less than 15 million euro: fine will be 600.000 euro

Fines can be higher depending on the violation. According to Chairman René Jansen it must pay to apply for a permit and to offer it legally instead of illegally.

Affiliates that continue to promote unlicensed online poker sites can also be fined. Comparable to the search for illegal providers, the “Kansspelautoriteit” periodically scans the internet in search of affiliate sites violating the law advertising illegal online poker sites.