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The Netherlands has a regulated offline gambling market which includes casinos and slot machines. In 2017, legal casinos were visited by 1.1 million people who came 5.8 times a year spending EUR 109 a visit averagely. This earned the casinos EUR 98 million which contributed to yearly turnover of EUR 639 million. In 2018, the Dutch gambling market generated a collective EUR 2.05 billion (GBP 1.84 billion / USD 2.31 billion) in revenue. Almost EUR 500 million is transferred to charities.
In the Netherlands, games of chance are regulated by the Gambling Act 1964 as amended and secondary gambling legislation (regulations and decrees). The Netherlands Gambling Authority (NGA) supervises and regulates games of chances in the country. The NGA is responsible for regulation and supervision only of the European part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The Kingdom of the Netherlands also includes three island territories in the Caribbean, but these countries have their own gambling markets. Concerning gambling policy, every country regulates it itself.
Land based gambling
The Dutch gambling market is operated by a mix of state-owned and private companies operating alongside each other, within their clearly defined market segments. Space for private operators is found within the lottery sector, the slot machine sector, and the horse racing totalizator. The remainder of the licensed gambling market is supplied by state-owned operators that manage casino venues, the state lottery, and sports-betting.
According to the Gambling Act, the Gambling Authority may grant a license to one legal entity for ‘organizing a gaming casino’. Holland Casino, a state-run company formed in 1975, was granted such a license. Currently, there is a casino monopoly with 14 casinos operated by Holland Casino where table games (roulette, poker, blackjack, etc.) can be played under the guidance of a croupier.
Smoking is allowed only in designated areas. The dress code is smart casual. The age limit is 18; showing a valid ID is obligatory. Holland Casino is legally obliged to averagely pay its clients 92% of bets in games and 80% while playing slot machines.
In the Netherlands, there are numerous well-equipped gambling arcades having the word “casino” as part of their name. The Netherlands Gambling Authority does not classify such places as “casinos” because of their lacking classic casino games under the guidance of a croupier. Various slot machines are installed there. Some of these slot halls have an electronic roulette.
In contrast to land-based casinos, the slot machine sector is the one to which the limit on the number of licenses does not apply. In order to operate a slot hall, a license from the NGA is required, as well as a permit from the relevant local municipality in relation to the premises in which the slot machines are located. It is illegal for unapproved slot machines to be present on the Dutch market. Different gaming machines are approved for use in Holland Casino venues, slot halls, cafés, and restaurants. Local municipalities decide whether slot halls are permitted within their municipality, how many, where, and on their opening hours.
The Netherlands has various lotteries. The NGA is authorized to grant licenses for multi-year (non-incidental) and instant (incidental) lotteries. Multi-year lotteries can be monopoly lotteries and charity lotteries.
Various entities under the Nederlandse Loterij operate the state lottery, lotto, and instant lottery (scratch cards). The Nederlandse Loterij was formed in 2016, when De Lotto was taken over by the Staatsloterij. While the Staatsloterij was a state-owned operator, De Lotto was a private foundation. This takeover resulted in expansion of the state's gambling operators.
The Betting and Gaming Act imposes restrictions on the number of betting providers and the type of bets that may be offered. In the Netherlands, bets cannot be made on non-sports (public) events such as the results of elections, the winner of the song festival or the date of birth of a new prince or princess.
Two monopolies prevail in the field of betting. Sports-betting is operated by Toto, which is part of the Nederlandse Loterij. The license granted by the Gaming Authority stipulates that restrictions apply to participants younger than 25 and that no live betting may take place.
Horse-race betting is operated by Sportech Racing BV. Now, Sportech does that under the brand name Runnerz. In mid-2017, Racing BV obtained a five-year license to maintain the exclusive rights for Dutch tote betting on horseracing. The license is operated in nine betting shops, combined with 38 other betting-point outlets and through the website.
Holland Casino has not issued a single license to establish an online casino in the country so far. The Government struggles to prevent citizens from gambling on foreign websites banning banking transactions and blacklisting the sites themselves. Nowadays, online gambling is non-existent in the country, but the situation is gradually changing.
In February 2019, the Dutch Parliament passed the Remote Gambling Act, and the country’s Gambling Authority is in the process of launching its regulated online gambling market allowing international online gambling companies to operate in the Netherlands. Applying for a license in the Netherlands to offer online gambling is expected in mid-2020. According to the NGA, the government intends for the Remote Gambling Act to come into effect on January 1, 2021.
Under the new Act, two types of licenses are allowed: casino gaming and sports-betting. Within these two general categories, there are casino games, poker, slot machines, sports-betting, exchange betting, live betting, and short-odds bingo. In order to prevent match fixing, no betting is allowed at moments which are easily manipulated within the game (betting on the outcome of separate games and betting on game elements such as yellow and red cards in football and injuries).