Across Europe gambling has been in existence for some time and the case is not any different in the Netherlands. Despite its relaxed nature on other aspects such as drugs, it’s still restrictive on gambling. Until 2012 online gambling was illegal in this country with many operators engaging locals without licensing. There are still many restrictive measures even with this change that saw operators get licenses. Only those located in the Netherlands can be granted licenses to provide online gambling products.
Foreign sites continue facing blockage from the national government and citizens are advised to not register on them. Only local operators can provide this. Still, the challenge is on as many more companies outside the country get access to players by offering better sites with many products and prizes. The national government is currently overwhelmed as it’s hard to regulate anything online.
Many international platforms accept bets placed by Dutch players without any hesitation. One move that was tried and failed was urging the banks to hinder payments made to these international platforms. Before the bid could go any further all Dutch banks unanimously voted against this move by the national government.
In the Netherlands, the gambling industry is run as a monopoly under Holland Casino. There are a total of 14 casinos spread all across the country with two companies being in charge of them. They are Scientific Games Racing BV and De Lotto. The most popular gambling products are casino and sports betting. Many locals are avid fans of soccer which sees many placed bets daily.
Read also: Gambling Legislation in the EU.
Facts and Figures of Gambling in the Netherlands
- Gross Revenue from Holland Casino as of 2018 EUR 656 million. A 2.75 increase from 2017.
- The Gross Revenue was a decline from 2017 by EUR 82.7 million
- The Gaming tax rate for 2018 increased to 30.1% up from 29.0% in 2017. This translated to EUR 6.7 million higher in taxes levied.
- 7 million Visitors were in and out of the Holland Casino with each spending an average EUR 114 per visit.
License and License Restriction in Holland
Casino games are monopolized in the Netherlands and efforts to privatize them have not succeeded. All casinos are under the state-owned Holland Casino that operates a total of 14 casinos in the country. It’s the only licensed entity that can offer games on land-based casinos as per the law. The Minister for Legal Protection withdrew a proposal to encourage more competition in this part of the industry. Games like poker can’t be provided in any other establishment apart from Holland Casino.
Slot machines are quite popular among Dutch gamblers and are spread throughout the country. To get an official license, an operator needs to visit the local municipality. They are in charge of issuing licenses to have machines in any establishment. This is followed by getting another license for the Netherlands Gaming Authority (NGA) if you have more than one slot machine.
Not all slot machines are permitted into the local Dutch market. The NGA has set guidelines on which is accepted and the ones that aren’t. Every operator must adhere to these standards as they seek official licensing. Operators that seek to provide sport betting as part of their gambling products need a separate license for this. Only one is issued per company and the taxes obtained from this are placed back in sports activities in the country.
Operators should get a Totalisator license to provide horse-race betting in Holland. Only one is issued per operator similar to sport betting. The National Lottery is popular among the Dutch and sees to it that 60% of the stakes are returned to players as winnings. An exclusive license is awarded for a period that isn’t defined.
Casino and lottery licenses are granted only to state-owned monopolies and not open to other operators. It means there are no application requirements for these two in the Netherlands. The NGA is charged with the mandate of issuing licenses in the other sectors of this industry. It’s, however, not limited to how many it can issue after a court ruling on this. There are set casino games that Holland casino can provide as per the law.
Online Gambling in the Netherlands
2012 saw the first online gambling sites licensed to operate in Holland. Previously they were illegal but still many locals frequently visited them. This prompted the national government to legalize them in a bid to keep an eye on this growing industry. The joy was short-lived as many other restrictions followed suit. Only operators in Holland are licensed and for a limited number of online gambling activities. Casino games and lottery remain a reserve of the state-owned monopoly.
High taxes were implemented on these companies that have resulted in many struggling in business. Local operators can only register Dutch players and no international ones are permitted. With this and high taxes, many companies have opted to exit the market. International companies can fill this gap left in the market but operate illegally in the country.
It’s the mandate of the NGA to oversee the gambling industry in the Netherlands. They issue licenses where relevant and oversee the operations of local companies especially online. The NGA is charged with the mandate to fully implement the Dutch Gambling Act.
With many locally licensed operators opting to exit the market, illegal online gambling has grown in leaps and bounds. It’s been hard on the national government to ban or control them since the internet is too vast. Measures to encourage banks to block payments to these sites have not been successful. The issue of problem gambling and the safety of Dutch citizens on these platforms remains a top priority.
Despite the NGA providing a detailed list of all licensed operators on their website, illegal gambling is on the rise. As of 2019, the regulator has imposed a fine of EUR 3.5 million on any operator not licensed in Holland. More than 10 operators have been fined mainly offshore gambling sites. A deep crackdown is set to take place in 2020 to this effect and fine more operators.
Many people seek an option to Holland Casino that has limited games. This prompts them to flock offshore sites promoting these illegal operators. Most of these international platforms make it possible for the locals to translate sites to Dutch and register easily. The fact that they can still make payments online is an added contributor.
The gambling industry in the Netherlands is restricted and some-what monopoly. Not all gambling products are under state-owned entities. Only lottery and casino games are controlled. The others are left to licensed operators. The NGA is the regulator that provides licenses and oversees the industry as a whole. Currently, its main agenda is dealing with illegal international online gambling sites.