The Dutch government has been opposed to liberalizing internet gambling in Holland for many years. In 2008 they went so far as to prepare a blacklist of foreign online gambling sites, and demanded that local banks do not do business with them, threatening possible prosecution.
Foreign gambling sites like Ladbrokes and Betfair battled for years for the right to serve Dutch players. The Betfair case ended up being heard by the European Court of Justice, which ruled in June 2010 that the Netherlands had every right to ban internet gambling in the name of social preservation. Online gambling is illegal under Dutch gambling laws, and it seemed that things would never change.
Then along came a new right-wing government with their own view of how things should work. In a surprise announcement this morning, it seems the Netherlands may soon legalize, license and regulate internet gambling. In a brief report, local newspaper Telegraaf, quoting sources in the Hague, says the new venture could raise as much as €270 million in revenue.
The government hopes to sell or auction off gambling licenses, granting foreign companies the right to run online gambling sites in the Netherlands. Currently, the only website offering internet gambling is the state-run lotto site, operated by the same monopoly that controls all casino gambling in the country. It is not yet clear what will come of the Holland Casino monopoly if the country’s internet gambling industry opens up.
No official announcement has been made, but already the criticism is flowing in. The Telegraaf article announcing the news is followed by page after page of negative comments from readers, so it is certainly possible that the plan will never follow through. In the meantime, Dutch gamblers are eager to learn what exactly is going on.