New players are preparing to enter the Dutch gambling market.
Holland is one of those European countries which have long discussed liberalizing the gambling market. The Government first announced its intention to get rid of the Dutch gambling monopoly at the beginning in 2013, but with the way things have been going, online operators have had plenty of time to line up for licenses.
Now it looks like 2014 will finally be the year when legislators adopt new Dutch gambling laws to welcome foreign operators. And it’s been quite the adventure, but things are finally starting to come together.
Preparing to go live with online casinos
At the moment, it is still illegal to play casinos online in Holland and local authorities make sure that operators offering gambling services via the Internet are fined. The government runs a strict monopoly on betting and casino games and operates 14 gambling venues across the country, through a company named Holland Casino.
However, the European Commission has criticized this system and reminded Dutch authorities that EU members have to allow free movement of services. Since then, the local government has been debating the issue and trying to come up with new regulations.
It is expected that Holland will get rid of its gambling monopoly by 2015, when the state will start handing out 5 year licenses to private companies, enabling them to offer a wide range of industry services across the country.
This was very good news for online gambling operators across Europe, but things have been moving slowly and it wasn’t until recently that the Council of Ministers approved the new gambling legislation. Now the bill can be introduced to the parliament, for a final vote, but gamblers in Holland will have to wait a while longer until they can actually access virtual casinos in their country.
Industry specialists now estimate that it will be mid-2015 by the time local authorities manage to sort out all the technical aspects of the new law.
New players on the market
Now the race for online casino licenses is on and gambling operators are very much interested in the Dutch market.
Swedish-owned Betsson has recently bought Oranje and Kroon, a Malta-based internet gambling group which is already familiar to players from Belgium and the Netherlands, and is preparing to assume the leading position on the virtual casino market.
Company representatives believe the Dutch market has a “huge potential for growth” and Betsson’s strategy involves saving some money on marketing services, by acquiring a company that’s already familiar among local players. With Betsson entering the market, local gamblers will have more options, including sports betting and poker.
The Swedish company is not the only one who has realized the untapped potential of the Dutch gambling industry. About a year ago, the Olympic Entertainment Group has established itself on the local market by acquiring a Dutch company and started to make preparations to obtain a remote gaming license.
The Dutch division of Endemol is also preparing to get into online gambling, by entering a joint venture with TMG Landelijke Media and announcing the development of “logical and above all creative game formats” targeted at bettors.
Not just yet!
While it is certain that Holland will have a free online gambling market sometime in the future, the Dutch regulator (Kansspelautoriteit) is still enforcing the state’s current regulations and continuing its war against illegal gambling just yet.
ONISAC Ltd. and Mansion Online Casino Ltd. have been slapped with fines because they offered services in Dutch and allowed players to pay through the local e-commerce system iDeal. Last September, Curacao-based Global Stars got a record EUR 100,000 fine for offering similar services to players living in Holland.
Current laws forbid online operators from using a .nl domain, offering services in Dutch or advertising their products in the local media. Operators have proven very inventive in finding ways around these laws, but authorities are not willing to let them get away with it.
It looks like 2014 will be an exciting year for Dutch gambling. Local decision-makers are still in the process of adopting new laws and players and casino operators are watching their every move. If you want to stay up to date with what’s going on in the Dutch gambling industry, just keep reading GamingZion. As soon as we hear something, we’ll let you know.