SBC Leaders: Niels Onkenhout – ‘KOA playfield is yet to be settled’. 

Niels Onkenhout, Chief Executive of Nederlandse Loterij – the Netherlands state lottery – has stated that the legislative journey of the KOA Regime is nowhere near complete. 

Speaking to Kelly Khen, host of the SBC Leaders podcast, Onkenhout avowed that Dutch online gambling faces a critical period as to how the market will be reshaped by upcoming judgements.

Of significance, the debate on further KOA regime reforms divides MPs opinions as a new coalition government takes control of the Kamer’s legislative agenda.

Reflecting on the developments of a frantic five months since KOA’s formal launch, Onkenhout remarked – “There is a panic amongst politicians and regulators on the sheer level of advertising, and whether we are leading young people into the abyss.

“After three or four months, there is now a debate on an advertising ban, in which a new government has called ministers one-by-one to be questioned on how all this has come about.”

Onkenhout is monitoring Kamer developments closely, in order to gauge what influence and impact ministers will have on market stakeholders such as  Nederlandse Loterij.

Irrespective of delays and technical hick-ups, Onkenhout praised the launch of KOA regime on 1 October 2021, in which Dutch regulators had “applied the learnings of European counterparts such as the UK and Scandinavia”.

The launch of KOA marked a new dawn for Nederlandse Loterij, competing against a raft of new market incumbents hungry to take market share.  

Onkenhout outlined Nederlandse Loterij’s ‘native credentials’, in which the state-owned enterprise has served as the “oldest state lottery operating for 295 years”.

Meanwhile the withdrawn process of KOA’s launch had helped Loterij revamp its flagship ToTo sportsbook brand, which Onkenhout stated will not be playing catch-up against the market’s new suitors.  

“We are very well plugged into Duch society, and understand what emotions are and how different stakeholders act and what their beliefs are and how you can engage with customers.”

As such, Onkenhout maintained that although challenges remain with regards to the KOA final framework, a strong competitive field is expected as more firms enter the fray. 

Hurdles may remain on player protection and advertising, but the CEO maintained the country still poses a lucrative opportunity for any interested companies.

“In the coming months, we expect another ten licensees to enter the market.” Onkenhout remarked.

“This means a country the size of New Jersey will have 20 licensed operators offering online gambling… that is an interesting proposition, for a sizeable market, with probably good winnings for all companies.”

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