The Netherlands is a country famous for its relaxed laws on some types of entertainment. But when it comes to gambling, and specifically online gambling, up until 2012 their attitude wasn’t so liberal. Interestingly enough, Dutch residents can gamble online, but only on websites hosted in the Netherlands. On the other hand, the government has a more relaxed view on non-Dutch operators. So some of the world’s biggest and most famous brands operate on the Dutch market.
The Gambling Landscape
Over the years, the Netherlands has been the host to many types of gambling services. When it comes to traditional gambling activity, Netherlands is the home of one of the world’s oldest lotteries – Staatsloterij – that’s been running since 1762. The gambling scene in the Netherlands is actually a state-controlled monopoly called Holland Casino. There are 14 casinos throughout the country. Holland casino even applied for an online gambling license, but was rejected.
As online gambling began to spread rapidly, the Dutch government was strongly opposed to allowing it in the country. The Dutch government has tried to block their citizens from betting on foreign sites for a long time. And even took measures to block online gamblers by blacklisting numerous sites, and even insisting that bank’s shouldn’t deal with them all. But the banks refused. However, this was a futile effort and the Netherlands have found out that it’s almost impossible to control the internet because there are over 450 sites that accept bets from Dutch citizens.
The sports betting section is slightly different though. There are two other companies that control it – De Lotto and Scientific Games Racing B.V. Scientific Games handles horse race betting, while De Lotto handles all the other markets and is the only legal online sportsbook available.
Changes in the Regulation
The popularity of online gambling, and the potential to generate millions of euros in tax revenues, licensing and registration fees if legalized, has led the Netherlands to make changes to their strict legislation.
Over the years, the old laws were modernized. But at the beginning of 2019 has been pivotal. Two years after the lower house – the Dutch House of Representatives – voted in favor of allowing third-parties to legally offer online gambling, the Senate has voted in favor of legislation to legalize internet-based gambling, opening the market to foreign and Dutch firms to apply for licenses.
Very soon, over 300 companies have openly expressed their interest in running a gambling website in the Netherlands, and at least 50 of them are expected to make a formal application for a license next year.
The new legislation will not only allow new players to enter the market, but it also brings changes in the current 29% tax rate that the state-run Holland casino and gambling arcade owners are paying at the moment. The tax rate is expected to be dropped to 20% in order to increase competition between operators. But the lower tax rate also translates into better player benefits. Including higher bonuses, more enticing promo offers and higher payout rates.
Meanwhile, the Dutch market is ranked at the 17th largest iGaming market in the European Union, with over 700,000 active online players, earning a gross gambling revenue (GGR) between 130 and 250 million euros.
The Future of Online Gambling in the Netherlands
Gaming industry experts are very optimistic the legalization of online gambling can be favorable for the Dutch market. The predictions say the gross gambling revenue will be even higher, making the Dutch market more competitive. In fact, once online poker and other forms of gambling are legal in the Netherlands, the Government projects at least EUR 10 million yearly in tax revenue from online gambling.
Additionally, this change of legislation is expected to make ripples in other European countries that are still against legalization of online gambling. But we have yet to see how the story of Netherland’s legal online gambling unfolds.