Dutch gambling regulator Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) has announced that its temporary leniency towards online bingo will come to an end this week, on 1 July.
From 1 May, the regulator has taken a relaxed view to online bingo games organised without a licence.
During the lockdown imposed as a result of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, the KSA has been more tolerant of these games, given that they were being run in line with ‘altruistic’ objectives, and not for profit or exploitation.
Normally operating land-based bingo games would require a gaming licence – with online prohibited until the Remote Gaming Act comes into force next year – but the KSA decided it would show more leniency throughout the pandemic, allowing the games to be used to help people socialise.
At the time it said: “The KSA understands that in these times there are initiatives to provide a fun pastime for people, and make them feel as if they are out of isolation without having to leave their own home”.
However, in a statement today, the regulator said it would resume enforcing regulations in full from 1 July. It cited the easing of lockdown rules as justification, as Netherlands residents will no longer need to stay in isolation from that date.
Explaining why the leniency must end this week, the KSA explained it had seen a “large increase in the number of bingo [games] offered online since mid-March”. It has already had to intervene in more than a dozen cases, where games were being offered for commercial motives.
Unlicensed bingo has seen an increase in other jurisdictions throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, with Danish regulator Spillemyndigeden also issuing warnings to operators and restricting unlicensed bingo games in May. In Norway, meanwhile, gambling regulator Lotteri-og stiftelsestilsynet (Lotteritilsynet) announced in March that land-based halls would be able to offer games online-only temporarily under lockdown.