PokerStars is the biggest online poker website in the world and has a reputation for dominating every single market that the iGaming operator enters. PokerStars has taken a cautious approach to the Dutch gaming market after reports emerged that Kansspelautoriteit – which is the gaming regulator in the Netherlands had imposed a €300,000 penalty on a subsidiary of Betsson as the online operator targeted Dutch players.
Reports suggest that Corona Ltd which was the Betsson subsidiary was hit with the fine because the iGaming operator did not have a gaming license to offer services in the Netherlands. Betsson which is licensed by the Malta Gaming Authority was offering services to Dutch players as the Netherlands has an unregulated iGaming market.
Holland Casino is the sole entity that owns and operates all of the casinos in the Netherlands. The gaming regulator has maintained a rather soft stance on offshore operators and the sudden penalty on Corona surprised the company and a lot of other online poker operators.
PokerStars Withdraws iDeal Payment Option
The first thing that PokerStars did was to send out an email to all Dutch customers last week and inform them that they would no longer be able to use the iDeal payment option to make deposits and withdrawals. This mail was only sent out to PokerStars players in the Netherlands and no reason was provided as to why this payment option was being removed.
iDeal is by far the most popular payment option in the Netherlands and is widely used by online poker players on PokerStars. By removing this option, Dutch players will certainly be inconvenienced but PokerStars has also informed them that they can sign-up for other alternative payment methods such as Trustly and SOFORT. PokerStars has not made any remark about suspending services in the Netherlands as of now.
PokerStars Wants Clean Record
The Stars Group which is the parent company of PokerStars has focused in recent times of expanding its presence in the United States but progress has been slow due to stalled online poker legislation in over 10 states.
PokerStars needs to have a stellar reputation and not be blacklisted in any markets as that would hurt the poker operator’s chances of obtaining a license to operate in US markets. The Stars Group has pulled PokerStars out from a number of grey markets during the last few years and is taking no chances of being blacklisted or getting hit with a penalty as any damage to its reputation can and will impact its chances of getting licensed in US states.
Gambling Bill Sees Little Progress
Offshore operators are not allowed to offer iGaming services in the Netherlands as of now but that could all changes. There have been discussions in the past which has resulted in the introduction of the Remote Gambling Bill over two years which sought for the online gambling market in the Netherlands to be regulated and for offshore operators to be given the chance to apply for an iGaming license and offer legal online gaming services. That bill has seen little to no progress during the last 24 months and is pending approval by the Senate.
Proponents of this bill had earlier expected it to be reviewed and passed by 2019 but that could be further delayed as there are more pressing issues that needs to be discussed by the Dutch Parliament.
Clean Record Required For Dutch Market  
The little progress that was made on the bill has seen amendments made that will now not make it mandatory for offshore operators to set up a physical presence in the Netherlands but they will have to have a headquarters within the EU. The amendment also makes it possible for existing operators who had received permission from Kansspelautoriteit to re-apply for a license under the new Gaming Bill and continue offering services.
The gaming regulator has so far not opposed any of the proposed amendments but has remained rigid on its stance that any iGaming operators who have been fined or warned in the past from targeting Dutch players will not be eligible to apply for a gaming license. The move from PokerStars suggests that the online poker giant wants to maintain a clean record with Kansspelautoriteit and be eligible to apply for a license at a later stage.

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