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The exit of major operator brands in the newly regulated Dutch market has left it without an obvious leader, Casino Reviews, the leading iGaming reviews portal has found.

Just six weeks into the opening of one of Europe’s last remaining new jurisdictions, Casino Reviews research using Google Trends discovered that previously dominant operators in the Netherlands each saw a significant drop in search volume following the legal market opening on 1st October.

Unibet and Bwin, the two largest casinos, saw their combined search volume drop by approximately 450,000 monthly queries, with a similar trend experienced by PokerStars, LeoVegas and Casumo.

Casino Reviews’ data shows that search volume for new, regulated casinos is more evenly distributed. Unibet’s previously leading market share has not led to a direct successor, with BetCity, bet365, GGPoker, Holland Casino and state-owned TOTO gaining search traction within a similar range.

Search volume for illegal casinos stalling appears to be good news for regulated casinos and the Dutch gambling authority Kansspelautoriteit’s (KSA) projected goal of an 80% channelisation rate by 2024.

The study also shows how six stakeholders – game and payment providers, affiliates, operators, the KSA and players – can assist in the channelisation drive. The licensing of content from leading developers is highlighted as an important issue, as is the role played by payment providers still offering their services to Dutch players at illegal online casinos.

Affiliates can also help the channelisation process, the report argues, by pointing out the risks posed by playing at illegal casinos, while operators are encouraged to put in place more streamlined affiliate programmes.

The research also points out that smaller, unregulated casinos could potentially opt not to pay what the KSA estimates is a cost of between €1 million and €1.6 million for a Dutch licence, a higher figure than most comparable jurisdictions.

Casino Reviews’ research goes on to detail a potential sweet spot for small-scale illegal casinos who can go under the KSA’s radar while making enough money to cover a fine if and when it should occur. That could leave players using these unregulated casinos open to uncertified games and an unsafe, non-secure playing environment.

David Overmars, Traffic and Conversion Lead at Casino Reviews, said: “Our extensive research into this newly regulated market has provided us with some fascinating insights. The loss of the ‘Big Five’ from the legal market has left a gaping hole that newly licensed operators are battling to fill, with no clear winner emerging.

“Those big operators will certainly come back and pick up licences at some stage and, by then, it is possible we will see the sort of channelisation of players the KSA originally envisaged.

“It is important the six stakeholders listed in our report do all they can to encourage players to play through legal channels, and this means offering them an experience that is safer and more enjoyable than that provided by unregulated offshore operators.”

Click here to view the full analysis.

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