New regulations live

Kindred and Entain halt operations for Dutch residents as online market launches

The Netherlands opened its regulated online gambling market on Friday.
Reading time 2:32 min
Both companies temporarily ceased their operations due to recent policy changes and today's opening of the market to licensed operators. The decision will impact both companies' monthly EBITDA and the two operators are set to apply for a license to service Dutch customers within the now regulated market. Kindred is seeking further clarification on the policy changes.

Kindred Group plc has taken the decision to temporarily cease any services towards Dutch citizens starting September 30, announced the company. The choice was made due to recent policy changes communicated by the Dutch Minister for Legal Protection on September 20 and the opening of the market to licensed operators, launching Friday, October 1.

According to Kindred’s CEO Henrik Tjärnström, the operator believed it did not have to block Dutch customers as long as it did not target them. Kindred thought it had adhered to all necessary licensing criteria to enter the Dutch market, including serving a “cooling-off” period, which was required for all licensees that previously targeted Dutch customers without a license.

Throughout said period, operators were not permitted to be active within the Netherlands market. These circumstances have changed now that the Dutch licensed market has launched: as a consequence, the company will not accept customers until it can obtain further details of its legal position.

“Kindred’s ambition is to be a sustainable operator in the Netherlands contributing to the Dutch society once a license is awarded,” stated the company in a press release. Moreover, the company says it is actively seeking details on the recent policy changes announced in the country.

Entain also announced Thursday it is ceasing its offering for players in the Netherlands on October 1, in accordance with policy changes. This decision will impact EBITDA by around £5 million per month.

Entain will submit its Dutch license application later this year and the group aims to be granted a license during the first half of 2022, in line with the company’s objective of only operating in domestically regulated markets. Since July 2019, it has been operating in compliance with the Netherlands Gambling Authority “cooling off” criteria, the group said.

It is Kindred’s view that the letter from Minister Sander Dekker “does not explicitly” request operators to cease services towards Dutch citizens as long as the periodization criteria published in 2019 are followed. “Kindred will now seek further clarification” on the intention of the Dutch government and regulator KSA, according to the group.

“The opening of the online gambling market in the Netherlands is a very positive step for all involved,” said Tjärnström, CEO Kindred Group. “We look forward to receiving our Dutch license during 2022, and thereby positively contribute to the Dutch society as a valued expert in achieving a sustainable gambling market.”

The Netherlands Gaming Authority Kansspelautoriteir (KSA) has granted iGaming licenses to 10 operators, including bet365 and GGPoker, to offer online gaming from 1 October 2021. Only 10 out of 29 applications submitted were approved, although more permits are expected to be added in the short term.

“We have always put a safe gambling environment at the very core of our strategy and operations, and already now comply as much as possible with all Dutch license requirements,” added Tjärnström. “We remain fully dedicated to consumer protection, preventing addiction and combatting fraud and crime.”

Kindred is preparing for the opening of the Dutch licensing process under the Remote Gambling Act, and has been working on the preparations for a Dutch license application, as well as having successfully completed all required audits.

Having finished preparations, Kindred will now, “in accordance with the regulatory timeframe that it must observe,” apply for the Dutch license during Q4 2021. The temporary decision to cease services towards Dutch customers is expected to have a negative impact on Group EBITDA of approximately GBP 12 million per month.

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