Online betting in the Netherlands was legalised in October 2021. The market has developed significantly since then, leading to memorable ups and downs throughout.
Since October 2021, bookmakers have made strong efforts to comply with the rules of the Dutch gambling authority (Kansspelautoriteit). Many bookmakers succeeded and lots of new licences were granted.
The Kansspelautoriteit website shows that many well-known international brands entered the Dutch market in 2022. Below is an overview of the bookmakers currently licensed to operate in the Netherlands and the month their applications were approved:
- Casino777 (February 2022)
- Circus (March 2022)
- Unibet (June 2022)
- ComeOn (September 2022)
- Betnation (September 2022)
- Goldrun Casino (September 2022)
- OneCasino (October 2022)
- Tonybet (November 2022)
Best new welcome bonuses
Many brands celebrated their entry into the market with bookmaker bonuses. Circus and Unibet in particular did not disappoint and decided to present a free bet welcome bonus to new players.
The Circus bonus has been reviewed positively because of the bonus amount: The bookmaker revolutionised the welcome bonus market by providing a welcome bonus up to €250. Only a handful of other bookmakers, including Bingoal, match this bonus amount.
The Unibet bonus stood out for another reason – it’s excellent value for money. For a deposit as low as €10, new players receive four different free bets each worth €10. This deposit-to-bonus ratio has been practically unmatched in 2022.
Discussions around advertising
Entering the market and presenting welcome bonuses did not pass by quietly. Bookmakers invested heavily in marketing campaigns after legalisation which made the online betting market much more visible to the general public. This was received negatively by a relatively large part of the Dutch population, leading to stricter legislation around bookmaker advertising.
One of the biggest scandals of the last year was professional football club ADO Den Haag’s decision to allow Hommerson Casino to sponsor the shirts of their youth teams. The media reacted to the deal which led to political debates in the Dutch government, ultimately resulting in an unofficial ban on sports betting sponsoring around minors.
The political response to targeting minors in sports betting advertising materialised itself in fines to a handful of bookmakers. For example, state-owned bookmaker TOTO received a €400.000 fine from the Dutch gambling authority (KSA) in 2022 for sending out an email to their entire customer base to promote bookmaker bonuses. In the promotion email, persons younger than 24 years old were targeted which is forbidden by law.
The effect of the fine on the bookmaker is unclear though. Both TOTO and the KSA are state-owned, effectively turning the fine into a relocation of money in the financial state portfolio. Whether the purpose of the fine is to warn other bookmakers, simply relocate money or a combination of both, remains therefore a point of discussion.
2022 in a nutshell
Altogether, 2022 has been a year in which bookmakers and betting legislation in the Netherlands have been working towards a balance. Aggressive marketing campaigns led to political debates about how to shape the juridical landscape of sports betting in the Netherlands. In the future, turbulence such as was seen in 2022 seems less likely and it is expected that the market will drift towards a more stable balance.