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The winner takes all. iGaming in the Netherlands - part 1

Rien ne va plus. After many years of preparation and deliberation, online gambling and sports betting - in short iGaming - will be legally allowed for inhabitants of the Netherlands. The second half of 2021 is planned for the long-awaited opening of the Dutch iGaming market.

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7 September 2020

Once opened, the 1 billion euro plus Dutch market will create great business opportunities for local and international iGaming operators. But first, they must obtain a license to operate. To do so, one must oblige to strict regulatory requirements taking in to account the IT infrastructure and Control Database. Moreover, it is necessary to have the digital infrastructure in place for providing the best User Experience (UX). In this series of blogs, we will dive into the legal and infrastructural requirements that iGaming operators will encounter when entering the Dutch market. One thing is clear: a comprehensive data centre strategy is a key success factor when entering the Dutch market. A strategy that takes into account the specific demands of the authorities and the user experience requirements of the players.

Data-driven control

iGaming is entertainment for consumers, but it has some downsides as well. For instance, in terms of addiction or money laundering. The new Remote Gambling Act (RGA - Wet Kansspelen op Afstand) is designed to guarantee a safe environment for iGaming players on the one hand and to prevent gambling addiction and crime on the other. For this purpose, the Dutch government will grant licenses and have a line-up of reliable operators. There are several requirements that operators need to fulfill to be eligible for a license. We will elaborate further on these in the coming blogs. For now, we mention one major requirement that operators must comply with: the creation, maintenance and access of a Control Database (CDB) to enable the Dutch Gambling Authority to exercise its supervisory powers. The mandatory data in the CDB will relate to payment transactions, changes in gaming accounts, overruns of the player profiles, and the application of intervention measures. The data will have to be stored near real-time and may not be overwritten. The data will be privacy sensitive, so only pseudonymized data will be stored. In case of a suspicion of fraud, the Dutch Gambling Authority might force the license holder to reveal the identity behind the unique indication.

The license holder must locate the CDB in the Netherlands and have it physically separated from its gambling system. Both may be housed in the same data centre, however, the data stored in the CDB must be logistically and safely separated from any other data. Furthermore, the license holder will be required to take appropriate technical and organizational measures that guarantee digital or physical access to the CDB environment for authorized officials of the Dutch Gambling Authority and other government agencies, for example in the context of seizure. The license holder will also be required to run a backup system that will ensure the availability of the data while allowing recovery in case a file is deleted or corrupted. The license holder will need to inform the Dutch Gambling Authority about the location, the specifications and operation of the backup system, and any changes thereof. If a mirror repository or similar solution must be available, this must be preferably on a secondary location (i.e. physically separated from the CDB and separated from the gaming systems). This mirror will allow the CDB to keep working in the event of hardware failure, reducing lost availability. Such a mirror may however not also serve as the back-up solution.

Conclusion: operators best land their CDB, its back-ups and mirrors as well as the core iGaming software platforms and services in a cross-connected data centre environment that already is able to accommodate the many IT needs of the operator and its ecosystem.

User Experience: the need for speed

iGaming comes with specific digital infrastructure challenges in terms of speed, performance, and privacy. Gamblers expect visually attractive applications that are easy to use and that run seamlessly on multiple devices, ranging from mobile and desktop to smart tv and gaming console. Interactions and transactions must be fast, secure, and private. Therefore, User Experience (UX) is a strong competitive advantage that impacts the revenues and the bottom line for iGaming operators. The platform and its underlying infrastructure, consisting of play and payment platforms, data centres, connections, databases, data vaults and more, must be able to deliver that optimal UX under all circumstances, in a fast-changing environment and during spikes and bursts of the number of players and the volumes of data. Low latency is crucial as it is one of the main factors defining UX.

It may be clear that the requirements associated with UX and security could be best addressed from a secure, state-of-the-art data centre environment that also facilitates all other infrastructural and legal needs that iGaming brings about.

Read all about the legal and infrastructural requirements in the free ‘Entering the Dutch iGaming market’ whitepaper