It would be unfair on gambling operators if their failure to win a licence to operate online in the Netherlands was made public, a senior minister said this week.
Franc Weerwind, minister for legal protection, said the damage to operators who were refused a licence would be “disproportionate”.
In a written answer to lawmakers, Weerwind said that the Netherlands Gambling Authority (KSA) was currently dealing with 30 applications for a licence to operate in the jurisdiction, but that those who failed would remain secret.
“The KSA cannot provide the requested list of names,” he said.
“The reason for that is that for a gambling provider to whom a licence has been refused the effect is disproportionate and it may be disadvantaged if the rejection becomes known, for example by reputational damage.
“For consumers and other stakeholders — such as payment service providers — only licences granted are important because they then know that they are allowed to play games or provide services with these providers of games of chance.
“Disclosure of company names who are in a permit granting process causes a disproportionate disadvantage to the interests of the applicant for a licence.”
Weerwind suggested that a public debate about each individual application would not help.
He added: “The investigation by the KSA in response to a licence application is comprehensive and careful.
“For licensing, the KSA need to be convinced that the future licence holder is willing and able to comply with the Dutch legislation and regulations and the objectives of the Dutch games of chance policy appropriately.
“A public consultation, in which citizens and authorities give their views, I do not consider to be expedient to submitting an application.”
He said applications were subject to an integrity assessment by the KSA board and that information considered includes criminal and tax records and from a variety of public bodies, such as the police and public prosecution service.
Fourteen applications were submitted in the last week of March, but no licences had yet been granted since April. He said decisions on applications were made within six months.
The minister also defended the use of welcome bonuses for new players aged 24 or older when they joined an operator, although stressed that there were restrictions on age and on ensuring it did not cause excessive gambling.
It follows the news last month that the KSA had launched a probe into gambling operators allegedly breaching regulations by offering bonus offers to children and young adults aged 18 to 24.
Meanwhile, a 2018 fine for operator Mr Green for offering online gambling illegally has been confirmed after an appeal. The KSA imposed a €312,500 fine on Mr Green Limited, which operated the mrgreen.com website.
At the time of the fine, the firm said it believed it had been compliant with Netherlands requirements but had not blocked Dutch customers from gambling.
Mr Green, now owned by William Hill, claimed the Dutch gambling policy broke European Union rules on the restriction of trade.