Netherlands: Sports Betting Companies As Sponsors – The Approach In The Netherlands

Last Updated: 9 June 2016
Article by Maarten Rijks and Margot Van Gerwen

With the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio and the UEFA Euro Championships in the offing, we look at the pressure on the Netherlands to open up access to gambling operators and the potential changes to its Betting and Gaming Act.

The recent announcement of a sponsor agreement between the Royal Dutch Cycling Union (KNWU) and the Gibraltar-headquartered sports betting operator Unibet, caused quite a commotion in the Netherlands where gambling is strictly regulated and online gambling is prohibited.

Current situation and possible legislative changes

European Member States take one of two approaches to licensing gambling. Some have a strict regulatory framework and others essentially operate controlled monopolies. As a result, selling online gambling services across borders is limited and is often illegal, particularly as unlicensed gambling services are mushrooming in certain jurisdictions.

The Netherlands, while generally known for its liberal approach, is very strict when it comes to (online) gambling. The Dutch gambling market is essentially a state monopoly. Currently, the Wet op de Kansspelen (the Dutch Betting and Gaming Act 1964) prohibits licensing of online gambling websites. In addition, the Betting and Gaming Act only permits establishing one licence for casino gaming. 'Holland Casino' is the only licensed and legal casino operator in the Netherlands and all its revenues go to the treasury of the Dutch state.

Sports betting is also a monopoly-based activity in the Netherlands. Article 15 of the Dutch Bet-ting and Gaming Act, defines sports betting as "letting participants guess and predict results of previously announced sporting events". Lotto is the only licensed sport betting company in the Netherlands and it is also the most important financer of the Netherlands Olympic Committee (NOC*NSF). NOC*NSF is the main organisation for organised sports in the Netherlands, to which all 76 major national sports associations and 28,000 sports clubs are affiliated. Unsurprisingly perhaps, Lotto is also the main sponsor of sport associations in the Netherlands.

For years, successive governments have been trying to modernise the regulatory framework around gambling in the Netherlands focussing on three key objectives:

  • a legislative proposal for legalising online gambling services (under strict regulations);
  • restructuring of the casino market, by (partly) privatising Holland Casino and offering more room for other (lottery) initiatives, and;
  • preventing gambling addiction, fraud and other criminal behaviour and strengthening consumer protection by regulating (online) gambling appropriately rather than prohibiting it altogether.

Drastic changes were due to take place in January 2015, but these have so far failed to material-ise. During this time-consuming legislative process the market has been developing rapidly (for example through online poker websites, sports betting websites and apps) and the Dutch legisla-tive framework is falling further behind.

The last amendments made to the legislative proposal for the regulation of remote gambling re-lated to the tax rates. The Dutch government initially proposed a rate of 20% for online gambling but the Dutch Lower House did not agree, forcing the proposal to be amended. Current pro-posals are for a 29% tax rate on online gambling (which is the same as for casino gambling in the Netherlands). Expectations are that the proposed legislation will enter into force on 1 January 2017.

Recent developments and discussion in sports regarding sponsor agreements

In anticipation of new legislation, Unibet and KNWU announced in January 2016, that they had entered into a sponsor agreement making Unibet the main sponsor of the KNWU from 1 January 2017. The four year deal is worth 7 million Euros but is subject to the new legislation entering into force and the tax rate on online gambling being set at 20% rather than the currently proposed 29%. This was a daring move from both KNWU and Unibet against the background of the current closed system in the Netherlands and the fact that Lotto is (or at least will be) a competitor of Unibet.

Lotto immediately voiced its disapproval of the deal between KNWU and Unibet which is unsur-prising given it is also very active in Dutch cycling, for example, sponsoring the UCI WorldTour team LottoNL-Jumbo. In a press release, Lotto urged other national sports associations not to miss opportunities to generate revenues for NOC*NSF by entering into agreements with foreign and future competitors of Lotto, which are not yet allowed to operate in the Dutch market. According to Lotto, KNWU is being used for political lobbing purposes by Unibet and it went so far as to imply that Unibet and KNWU are putting improper pressure on Dutch government to opt for a lower tax rate.

Whatever Lotto's views, its monopoly position and its influence on NOC*NSF as the main finan-cial sponsor, are becoming increasingly controversial and, according to some, outdated. NOC*NSF should, critics argue, be allowing sponsorship deals with competing gambling compa-nies. There are also accusations that Lotto has failed to adapt to the new online gambling market.

Given that Lotto's sponsorship of NOC*NSF has markedly decreased over the last four years from 50 to 38 million Euros, the call to allow other players into the market and to impose competi-tive tax rates (the current proposed rate of 29% in the Netherlands is much higher than in sur-rounding countries) is growing. Of course, other potential competitors of Lotto are also in favour of lowering the taxes on online gambling to 20% and point out that margins are otherwise too low to invest in the Dutch market.

Several sports marketing professionals have already warned against too strict a regime on the grounds that that without sensible legalisation and competitive tax rates, gamblers will not be protected, the income for the Dutch treasury will be reduced and Dutch sports will have to face a further decrease of sponsorship money. We are also of the opinion that new parties entering the market - when properly regulated - would bring much needed financial support of sport in the Netherlands. Just as it is in sports, competition should be a basic principle in the sponsorship markets to create the highest possible standards.

Recent developments regarding advertising for online betting services

In anticipation of the new remote gambling legislation, the Dutch Gaming Authority (the supervi-sory authority for compliance monitoring of the Betting and Gaming Act) already tolerates Unit's offering of online betting services on its website. Conversely, the Dutch Gaming Authority an-nounced on 11 May 2016, that it is preparing enforcement actions against businesses behind gambling apps offered to the Dutch public. Both companies that currently offer gambling apps in the Netherlands have been told to withdraw their apps from the Dutch market. If they fail to com-ply with these requests the Dutch Gaming Authority can impose administrative fines. Dutch con-sumers have also been warned to withdraw their credit balances to avoid losing them if the illegal apps are forced to go offline.

In February 2016, the Dutch Gaming Authority (Kansspelautoriteit) published its guidelines on advertising for gambling services. The guidelines rely on the general rule that advertising for betting and gaming services is only allowed by licensed gambling providers on condition that betting and gaming is not actively promoted.

Only advertising that will lead to a legal and licensed offer of gambling and betting services is permitted. Concealed offering and advertising leading to non-licensed (and therefore prohibited) services is not acceptable according to the Dutch Gaming Authority. The Dutch Gaming Authority published a practical example of a prohibited form of advertising: "...a press release concerning a closed sponsor agreement promoting an online gaming company is considered to be a form of advertising." Furthermore, the guidelines explicitly mention, referring to case law, that depicting part of a company logo can be considered as advertising gambling services.

Interestingly - and to come back to the KNWU-Unibet deal - during the press conference to an-nounce the sponsorship agreement, the different banners and (possible) future cycling clothing showed six green balls in a row without the UNIBET letters. As most of the public will know, and as was obvious at the press conference, the six green balls in a row represent the logo of Unibet. Although KNWU and Unibet ostensibly attempted to avoid advertising gambling services in the Netherlands, this use of part of the Unibet logo would, strictly speaking, be considered as advertising for (as yet illegal) online gambling services in the Netherlands. Because of all the commotion, Unibet has though arguably gained significant publicity and has probably already achieved (part of) its commercial objective in the Netherlands.

As legislative change remains on the horizon, the Dutch Gaming Authority, incumbents and future players are all very active in the lobby game which is still far from over. We have to wait and see who is declared the victor.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


From time to time Mondaq may send you emails promoting Mondaq services including new services. You may opt out of receiving such emails by clicking below.

*** If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here .


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.