The gambling industry in the Netherlands has changed a lot following the official approval given by the Senate to the Remote Gambling Bill.
After a decade full of uncertainty and turbulence, the country has finally made one more step towards the legalization of online gambling. Netherlands’ competent authorities have long been criticized for unnecessarily delaying the legal status of remote gambling operations, especially considering the fact that the first proposals on the issue were submitted in 2011. However, it was not until 2019 that the Dutch Senate put the negotiations for the Remote Gaming Bill and the Casino Reform Bill on the table, with the final vote being scheduled for February 12th.
However, the proponents of the Remote Gaming Bill who were waiting for the Dutch market to open were left totally astonished by the latest decision of the Senate. The legalization of online gambling would have put an end to the monopoly of the state-owned Holland Casino, but the country’s Government has decided to drop plans for Holland Casino privatization after eight years of preparation.
At the time when the decision was revealed, it seemed like the Federatie Nederlandse Vakbeweging (FNV) and De Unie unions were the only ones to welcome the move due to concerns that Holland Casino’s privatization would make working conditions worse. Hundreds of license applications for online gambling permits have been filed still, but the Dutch Gaming Authority has finally decided to boost the penalty rates and bolster the crackdown measures for the ones who offer gaming services to local residents.
Dutch Government’s Decision Leaves Proponents of Holland Casino Privatization Baffled
At the time when the Dutch Government announced its decision to revoke Holland Casino’s privatization in May 2019, everyone who was hoping to get a chunk from the then soon-to-be-opened market was totally baffled, as an almost decade-long project was simply put to an end. According to the initial plans, the properties of the Holland Casino were to be sold to the bidders who offer a higher price. The preliminary estimates have shown that the legal online gambling market is worth approximately €1 billion at the time.
Apart from that, about 300 online gambling businesses have revealed their interest in applying for a gaming license in the Netherlands after the opening of the local digital gambling market.
For the time being, there are plans for the new online gambling law to take effect by 2021. However, the privatization plans for the Holland Casino have been fully dismissed until further notice. No one knows whether there will be such a notice, but analysts say that the privatization plans have been scrapped for good. In any case, for the time being, the political control of the local gambling industry has been put higher on the agenda.
According to analysts, the recent change of heart of the Dutch Government could have also prevented a severe outburst of negative consequences, including an increase of underage gambling, rising gambling addiction rates and money laundering. The aforementioned issues have always been delicate ones, and some opponents of the privatization of the Holland Casino have claimed that it would end up fuelling these issues and other negative consequences for the local communities.
Despite the Dutch authorities have tightened the measures for companies which dare to offer gambling services to local residents, the question how the recent decision of the Government to keep the country’s gambling market closed would affect Dutch customers.
It still remains unclear whether the decision would be a better one than simply accepting other operators and make them comply with the regulatory framework. In any case, the extra costs which would have applied to foreign companies would be significant, especially at a time when it still remains unknown whether the Dutch market would be profitable enough to help such businesses compensate for their expenses.