While the Netherlands are widely considered one of Europe’s, and indeed the world’s most liberal countries, Dutch gambling laws almost gives lie to this notion. In fact, the Dutch are allowed to gamble, but under a state monopoly called “Holland Casino”, which brands all Dutch brick-and-mortar casinos with “Fair Play”. As the Dutch government has hitherto refused to license any online casinos, there are presently no legal Dutch online gambling operations, forcing the Dutch government into confrontations with foreign owned and operated casinos.
Even more surprisingly, it may be a right-wing government that may change things. The new coalition government, hoping to raise €270 million in revenue, now wishes to market internet gambling licenses to foreign companies. The new Dutch government is looking to follow a model created by other European governments, such as Italy and particularly France which has a strong state operator contending against a firmly controlled marketplace.
It is still not clear whether this new, more liberal, policy would apply to all forms of gambling. The Dutch government seems to be acting in response to the Dutch Justice Ministry’s August 2010 report which merely suggested issuing some permits for online poker sites in Holland, while still denying sportsbooks, casinos, and other online gambling projects.
The Netherland’s current restrictions have proven more effective at constraining government revenue than at controlling Dutch citizens. Offshore internet gambling operations regularly cater to 500,000 Dutch citizens, according to Radio Netherlands.
Holland Casino’s spokesman admits that the monopoly would like license online gambling sites in the Netherlands to tap this prosperous unlawful market. However, he also itemized some essential concerns. In particular, he wishes for “an admission pass which must be picked up in person with a valid photo ID. A pre-set maximum amount, or the introduction of a ‘cooling-down’ button, would also create additional barriers.”
Responsible gambling advocates are divided. The Tactus special facility for addiction care would prefer that the government avoids doing anything which might somehow encourage any type of wagering. By contrast, the IVO, a scientific bureau researching addiction and based in Rotterdamn, feels “If we do it right, and set the right conditions to operators, legalisation could be an advantage,” according to spokesperson Carola Schrijvers.