Netherlands Gaming Authority Chief Leaves after 5 Years at the Helm

Marja Appelman, Chief Executive of the Dutch gambling regulator, Kansspelautoriteit, is leaving her post to pursue new career opportunities, it was announced earlier today.

Ms. Appelman was appointed as Executive Director of the Housing Market Directorate at the Dutch Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relation. She will assume her new role on August 1. A successor to the Chief Executive post is yet to be announced by Kansspelautoriteit.

Ms. Appelman was appointed as Chief Executive of the gambling regulator in September 2013. Over the five years under her stewardship, the Gaming Authority rolled out stricter rules against violations of the country’s gambling law, participated in the lobbying efforts for the re-regulation of the Dutch gambling market, and most recently took a stance on the highly controversial loot boxes issue, among other tasks and challenges.

The regulatory body itself was founded in 2012 to oversee the provision of gambling services in the Netherlands. However, Kansspelautoriteit has long complained that the Dutch gambling law in its current form does not provide the regulator with enough authority to penalize operations that are breaching that same law. The issue is expected to be mended by the country’s new Remote Gaming Bill, which passed the Dutch Lower House in the summer of 2016 and is hoped to be voted by the Senate in the coming months and enforced early next year.

Last summer, Kansspelautoriteit introduced new rules in relation to the provision and promotion of unregulated online gambling services in the country that aimed to enhance the regulator’s watchdog functions and clamp down on a thriving gray market. However, despite the new rules, the Gaming Authority still could not penalize properly violations of the country’s regulatory regime, citing the fact that it did not have enough power to do so under the same regime.

Call for Innovation

In a keynote speech during this year’s Gaming in Holland conference, Ms. Appelman encouraged Dutch-facing companies to adopt innovative approaches within the local market, but within the limits of what is legal in the country.

As mentioned above, a bill calling for the re-regulation of the Dutch gambling market in a manner that would allow international operators to apply for a license from the local regulator was voted through in the lower house of the country’s legislature more than two years ago. However, it stalled in the Senate without much progress.

Last month, Dutch Senate members indicated that the piece could finally be voted as politicians had agreed on an important language contained in it. That language had to do with a requirement for the physical presence of foreign operators in the Netherlands. It became known that the provision would require operators based outside the EU/EEA to establish an office in the country in order to be allowed to operate there. EU/EEA companies would not need to set a brick-and-mortar operation.

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