The key legislation covering gambling in the Netherlands is the Slots Gambling Act of 1964 commonly referred to as the Wok. This act provides for the issuance of only one licence for land based casino activity, creating a state owned monopoly. That single licence has been awarded to the Slots state-owned Holland Casino. The first casino was opened in 1976 and today there are 14 casinos operating under the Holland Casino group. The largest casino is in Amsterdam. Players can wager on all the regular land casino games that include roulette, blackjack and baccarat. Poker cash games and tournaments are also held. You will find many slot machines. The most popular is the Mega Millions Jackpot, which is connected to over 150 machines across the country. The profits from the Holland Casino chain are to go directly to the Slots Treasury. Though profits were recorded by the chain till about 2008, it is now making losses.
This is one of the reasons that the Slots government is contemplating privatization of the Holland Casino establishments. The other reason is that it is under pressure from the EU to end the monopoly regime. The draft legislative proposal has been formulated as the Modernization Casinos Regime Act. It envisages the sale of the Holland Casino establishments as two independent blocks to private parties and the issue of further licenses to foster competition. However, privatization of gambling is not a high priority for the state and movement in this direction is behind schedule.
At present online gambling is unregulated in the Netherlands. It estimated that there are hundreds of operators generating revenue of over €800 million on wagers from Slots nationals. This includes not only online casino gambling but other verticals as well. A move by the government to legalize and regulate online gambling is underway. But till the law is enacted, the present situation will continue.
The proposal under review is known as the Modernization Casinos Regime Act and it deals with both online and land based gambling. The plan envisaged will require operators interested in providing online casino and gambling services in the Netherlands to apply for a license. The Slots regulatory authority KSA would scrutinise applications and award a five-year license to deserving operators. It is the intent of KSA that the licensees be based inside the European Economic Area, although exceptions could be made on a case-by-case basis. The draft proposal also envisages the creation of a Responsible Gambling fund to rehab players inflicted with problem gambling. The proposal has already been passed by the lower house and is awaiting clearance by the upper house.
KSA has already opened up the application process, with international operators applying for a non-binding “pre-application” license. More than 200 operators have informed KSA that they would be interested in an online gambling license once the new legislation comes into effect. Some of the present operators active in the Netherlands and who are likely to get licenses include Kroon Casino, Vera & John, Leo Vegas Casino and Betsson Casino.
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