The Netherlands and Amsterdam in particular, has long been known as one of the most progressive, liberal countries on Earth. Whether it’s legalizing marijuana before it was cool or being unashamed about one of its major tourist attractions, the Red Light District. When it comes to gambling, though, it was a country that was actually more cautious than others so while real-world gambling was permitted but regulated, online gambling, including online poker was prohibited under Dutch law. Ironically, even as the Dutch government has unveiled plans to gentrify and clean up the Red Light District and that old Dutch liberalism seems to be under attack, major changes are afoot in the country’s laws towards online gambling – changes towards the more permissible. Rather than being banned, as of March this year online gambling will fall under the same regulatory body as its real-world, brick-and-mortar counterpart. This is huge news, of course, for poker fans. Poker has long been a big game in the country but soon it will be joined by online video poker in Holland. Online live poker has always been a bit of grey area as it wasn’t like online slots, for example, but was played between real players, just through the medium of the internet rather than face to face. As video poker games are legalized but regulated, this is all the more true for live poker gaming. What does regulation mean, though? It’s actually a fairly complicated process but it requires online gaming brands approaching the regulatory committee for a license to operate in the Netherlands. This license will include several safeguards to protect consumers from being exploited or ripped off by shady online gaming companies. As such, the company in question will have to provide a brand name that makes it abundantly clear that what they’re offering are games of chance. Saying that customers are guaranteed to win, therefore would be strictly forbidden for online gambling companies. They are to ensure that people under 18 years of age are warned off the site and should not accept membership from anyone under the age of eighteen. More generally, those applying for licenses need to prove that they are a legitimate business. This includes tax certification, high-level encryption standards and a legit physical address. These sites must offer the highest possible security when it comes to customers’ personal information and payment details. Extensive online support and a real-world phone number would be required for any gambling website looking to be certified by the Dutch Gambling Authority. The gambling authority also takes gambling addiction extremely seriously. Unlike most gambling certificates given throughout the world, an online gambling company in Holland needs to provide extensive support for those who are addicted to gambling and to have mechanisms in place to ensure that their customers do not develop addictions. This means requiring an algorithm that allows the owners of these sites to spot any potentially addictive behavior by any of their clients and to intervene whenever possible and to offer them a variety of therapeutic options to deal with that addiction. These seemingly draconian measures may seem harsh but most reputable online casinos, bookies and poker games should have most of these measures in place in the first place. These are not measures meant to stop gambling in a country known for its permissiveness but are there to protect the end users from being needlessly exploited by amoral or just plain shady gaming companies. Casinos in most countries are usually held to the highest standards so why shouldn’t their online alternatives be as well? How does this affect poker, though? The good news is that it doesn’t too much. Video poker sites will need to be licensed but if you’re a poker player who prefers the convenience of playing with friends or strangers online or even if you simply prefer playing against an artificial intelligence in colorful, theme-driven video poker games, all these regulations only really offer peace of mind if you happen to be playing online poker in the Netherlands or through a Dutch site. And that, really, is government regulation at its finest.
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