PokerStars No Longer Accepting iDeal Payment Option in the NetherlandsSeptember 7, 2018 9:53 am
The Netherlands may be noted for its range of relaxed laws, but internet gambling is not one of them and the industry continues to be technically illegal in the northwestern European country. While that hasn’t prevented some operators from offering their services in its unregulated market, Dutch gaming regulator De Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) continues to monitor the situation carefully and only last month handed Corona Ltd, a subsidiary of the Betsson Group, a massive €300,000 penalty for targeting Dutch players.
Prior to the fine, KSA had maintained a rather low-key approach to the activities of offshore operators. The sudden imposition of such a huge fine, however, has caused a number of online gambling operators to take note, one of which is PokerStars. The world’s biggest internet poker room had been allowing its Dutch players to make deposits on the site via the Netherlands’ most popular payment method called iDeal. Following the regulator’s action, however, PokerStars has removed the option, although it is still allowing other alternative payment methods, including SOFORT and Trustly.
Limiting Exposure to Grey Markets
In 2014, The Stars Group, then called Amaya, acquired PokerStars for $4.9 billion, after which it tried to get on the good side of regulated poker markets around the world by withdrawing its services from grey zones. This became increasingly important after certain countries started showing a willingness to blacklist and impose hefty fines on those operators persistently contravening their local rules.
The United States is one the most important markets for PokerStars, but up until now its legislative progress has been slow with just four out of fifty states having regulated online gambling within their borders. Furthermore, the brand has only been able to secure a presence in one of them, New Jersey. That is because its flaunting of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act between 2006 and 2011 has seen it labelled as a ‘bad actor’ and excluded from consideration by Nevada, as well as other prospective states.
Consequently, PokerStars has careful been attempting to mend its reputation over the past few years, and is now reluctant to do anything that may negatively impact its chances of acquiring a US license at some stage in the future.
Remote Gambling Bill
The Netherlands has a thriving gambling black market, and in 2015 the Dutch regulator estimated that half a million Dutch citizens spent €296 million gambling online. In 2016, the country made the first steps towards modernizing its gambling industry which has been governed by the Dutch Betting and Gaming Act since 1964 by introducing the Remote Gambling Bill. This piece of legislation called for online gambling in the Netherlands to be regulated and open to international operators. While the Remote Gambling Bill was approved in the House of Representatives back in 2016, the bill has yet to receive Senate approval, thus ensuring the whole process has all but ground to a halt.
Some Progress Made
Back in 2017, Henk Kesler, who at the time was Vice President of the Dutch Gaming Authority, expressed his belief that the country’s new online gambling law would come into effect on January 1, 2019. While some progress has been made on the legislation, analysts are of the opinion that there are likely to be further lengthy delays as the Dutch Parliament has other more pressing issues on its plate.
What has been established, though, is that offshore operators acquiring licenses will be required to have a headquarters based within the European Union (EU), and also set up a physical presence in the Netherlands. The KSA has further warned that any operators fined for targeting Dutch players will not be allowed to apply for an online gambling license post-regulation. The recent decision by PokerStars to remove its iDeal payment option from the Netherlands suggests that the online gambling behemoth is keen to stay on the right side of the regulator, and remain eligible to put in a license application at a later date.