Following increasing opposition from political parties and unions within the Senate, Dutch gaming authority Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) has confirmed that the bill concerning the privatization of the state’s monopolized Holland Casino has been withdrawn.
The plan to privatize the Holland’s gaming regime was initiated by the country’s lower house almost 8 years ago, and was signed off by the Dutch government 2 years ago. Originally the bill would have seen 10 of the monopoly’s 14 casino licenses sold while keeping to the Holland Casino brand. The remaining 4 facilities would have been sold off separately, under the provision of creating 2 additional licenses which would be auctioned off to new casino operators.
Unions Full of Fear and Doubt
On Friday last week however, Dutch unions including the Justice Minister, Sander Dekker expressed their concerns over the “rapidly changing” gambling landscape in the Netherlands, with it likely to trigger an increase in both addictions and underage gambling, as well as money-laundering.
Talking to the Gambling Insider, the founder and CEO of Gaming in Holland said “The Senate asked what the ‘need’ was for privatization. Minister Sander Dekker could not really answer that – the privatization thoughts were first launched when Holland Casino was performing at a loss (after the 2009 crisis), also a period when a sale would add to the state budget. Both reasons have mostly since gone away,”
Last month Holland Casino announced their year-on-year figures confirming a substantial drop in 2018, even though 2 new casinos in both Groningen and Amsterdam boosted turnovers.
“This all can be seen as part of a general landscape where political control of the gambling industry is higher on the agenda,” he continued.
“I think these are the three main reasons; maybe in the future this could resurface but the momentum has completely disappeared for now. It is still the intention of Minister Dekker to privatize Holland Casino. But, since this proposal hasn’t received support, he wants to reconsider how to do this in the future.”
Opening Up the Dutch IGaming Market
Although the country’s parliament legalized online gaming back in February this year, they did not anticipate the huge interest it would attract from close to 300 online gaming operators keen to retain a license. Then, just a month later, Kansspelautoriteit announced that there would be a change in the starting financial penalties associated with illegal online gaming; increasing from €150,000 to €200,000.
An online operator called Casumo were the first to face the wrath of the newly adjusted fines, and in April was ordered to pay a penalty of €310,000.
According to research carried out by the Holland Casino chain, the Dutch online gaming industry is said to be worth approximately €1 billion a year, with an estimated 1.5 million Dutch adults who currently gamble online unlawfully.
At its peak, the Dutch government came to realize such scope of activities is almost impossible to police, and at one point attempted to prevent players from accessing several online gambling sites; even pushing banks to refuse payouts or anything related to them. However, the banks refused – and over 450 online betting sites still accept illegal wagers from Dutch residents.
Online sports betting is a slightly different story in the Netherlands. Rather than being controlled by Holland Casino, it is owned and managed exclusively by 2 companies called Scientific Games Racing B.V and De Lotto who run the country’s only legal online sportsbook.