The Dutch Justice Ministry has proposed that the government give up its monopoly on online gambling in the country. A recent inquiry headed by Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin looked into the positive and negative aspects of internet gambling in Holland, and suggests that a limited number of licenses be given to online poker sites that would allow them to offer their services to Dutch players.
The report’s comprehensive review of the current state of Dutch gambling laws focused primarily on internet poker, which Dutch courts recently ruled to be a game of skill, not a game of chance. Other forms of internet gambling, including online casinos, online sportsbooks, and internet bingo in the Netherlands, are excluded from the proposal, and no licenses will be given to sites of that nature.
Sports betting in Holland will remain the exclusive product of Ductch sportsbook monopoly De Lotto. Despite recent court battles between De Lotto and internet sportsbooks Betfair and Ladbrokes did little to shake the foundations of the country’s sports betting monopoly.
The reason online poker has been singled out by the report is that the game is becoming more and more popular among players, but because there are limited legal options available for playing online poker in Holland, players must turn to sites hosted overseas.
“This regime should be explicitly designed to bring illegal poker operators under a legal regime,” the report states.
Some are already criticizing the move because of its focus on poker, suggesting that all forms of gambling should be regulated at once. The opening up of the Dutch online poker market is nonetheless a good start, and hopefully it will pave the way to a more open attitude towards internet gambling in the country.