The Netherlands is pushing back the reorganization of its online gambling space by two months in the latest delay caused by the coronavirus chaos that has gripped the world.

The country’s gambling authority, Kansspelautoriteit, confirmed on Monday that the Remote Gambling Act, which the Dutch Senate finally passed in 2019 after years of delays, will take effect on March 1, 2021 and the online gambling market will open exactly six months later on September 1, 2021.

The country’s new gambling law was previously expected to come into force on January 1, 2021 and first legal operations were scheduled to begin on July 1 of that year, but then the coronavirus pandemic happened and the rest is history.

Kansspelautoriteit’s Monday announcement did not come as a big surprise, though, as the Dutch Minister for Legal Protection at the Ministry of Justice and Security, Sander Dekker, suggested in June that there might be some delays in the implementation of the new regulatory framework, citing the restrictions imposed on the government by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The newly announced online gambling timetable follows a previous six-month delay announced by Dutch lawmakers late last year as the government needed more time to prepare the necessary secondary regulations for the reorganization and regulation of the country’s online gambling market.

Delay Announced after Consultation with Stakeholders

The Dutch Gambling Authority said that the decision about the delay in the implementation of the Remote Gambling Act was made after Minister Dekker discussed the matter with all involved stakeholders.

The regulator further noted that if the new gambling law takes effect on March 1 next year, interested online gambling operators will be able to begin submitting their license applications from that date.

The Netherlands currently does not have a framework that governs the provision of online gambling services in the country, which has enabled international operators to service local gamblers in an unregulated environment for many years.

Last year’s final approval of the Remote Gambling Act was the last important step before Dutch lawmakers could make some actual progress on the reorganization of the local market. The Senate vote on the proposed legislation was delayed for nearly three years after members of the House voted in its favor in the summer of 2016.

The Dutch government submitted this past July its planned online gambling framework to the European Commission to review.

Under the Netherlands’ Remote Gambling Act, Kansspelautoriteit would be tasked with overseeing the country’s reorganized gambling market, while locally licensed operators would be subjected to regular audits of their activities, among other requirements.

One of the more restrictive such measures would require online gambling license applicants to clean the customer bases they have amassed throughout the years before the reorganization of the local space.

Other rules include a requirement that license holders submit annual reports with detailed information about their site usage. Operators will also have to inform Kansspelautoriteit about the number of rejected players, all possible data breaches, and the number of complaints they have handled every year.

In addition, licensed gambling companies will be prohibited from taking bets on so-called negative events, including red cards in football matches and events that have no bearing on the outcome of a game.

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