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Fiona Simmons December 8, 2023 4 min read
The Dutch Data Dilemma
The Netherlands offers one of the toughest regulatory regimes with a strong focus on consumer protection, and yet there may be something lacking
The Netherlands’ regulator is cracking down on operators which don’t meet its strict requirements on data storage. BetComply Director Mike de Graaff and Pretty Technical Director of Operations Tom Squirrell take a closer look at how to avoid sanctions.
Q: The Dutch regulator (KSA) recently issued a warning to Holland Casino, noting that it could face penalties or even a licence withdrawal if it doesn’t resolve issues with its control database (CDB). What exactly does this mean, and why is this significant?
Tom Squirrell: To give you some background, the Netherlands’ Remote Gambling Act states that licence holders in the country must store and transmit data from their activities via a specific data vault, known as a CDB. The regulator can then use the CDB to monitor the operator and ensure they are complying with the various regulations. The KSA has recently deemed that Holland Casino’s CDB does not meet the necessary requirements, and has given it six weeks to resolve the issue.
Mike de Graaff: What makes this significant is the potential consequences. Fines and even licence revocation are both on the table. While this particular case focuses on Holland Casino, from what I’m seeing on the ground in the Netherlands, the problem is far more widespread. Of the 21 licensees in the country, at least 17 had or are still having reporting issues with the regulator. This is a fundamental challenge for anyone seeking success in the market.
Q: How should operators approach their data requirements in the Netherlands to avoid similar issues with the regulator?
Tom Squirrell: Most operators now go for fully managed solutions. It’s a significant technical challenge to process this data securely, in a uniform manner and in real-time on top of that. Operators obviously want to focus on their strengths and player-facing offers, so they need a trusted partner in this area. I would add that even when outsourcing, you need to understand and engage with the process.
Data can’t be viewed as a standalone requirement in the context of the Netherlands. It needs to be part of a wider, proactive compliance strategy, and for that to work, you need both an understanding of what is happening and a responsive partner that can share knowledge with you.
Mike de Graaff: Absolutely, this isn’t just about an out-of-the-box solution. We consistently see the KSA demanding operators showcase not just that they are fulfilling requirements, but also that they possess a deep awareness of the issues around why they are fulfilling them. Yes, this can sometimes be abstract, but it is the reality of the market and there’s now a close correlation between the operators who are best managing their compliance responsibilities and those enjoying the most commercial success. I’d echo Tom’s comments about finding a responsive partner. If you are given a six-week window by the KSA to resolve a complex issue, as Holland Casino has been, you need to be able to move very quickly.
Q: How does this fit into the wider regulatory outlook in the Netherlands?
Mike de Graaff: I’ve been working with licensed operators in the Netherlands since the framework launched back in 2021, and I’ve always urged them to change their mindset when it comes to compliance. Many operators assume that if they meet the minimum standard across each requirement they have done everything they need to do. While this is the case in some jurisdictions, we are increasingly seeing that the KSA expects more. Sometimes the spirit of the regulations are just as important as the technical details. This is all about changing the mindset, surrounding yourself with trusted partners and seeing compliance as an opportunity rather than an obligation.
Tom Squirrell: I agree with Mike here. The days of doing the minimum required are over. Yes, the Netherlands is a more demanding market in this regard when compared to many others, but I think it is clear that this is now the direction of travel that we’re seeing in key jurisdictions worldwide. Master this mindset in the Netherlands and it will stand you in good stead elsewhere.