AMSTERDAM – Gaming companies can’t wait for 2015. If everything goes according to plan, they will be permitted to offer online gambling starting on 1 January, 2015. In addition, the lotteries’ licenses will expire at the end of December and Holland Casino is for sale. Whose jackpot is the Dutch gambling market going to be?
According to the experts, the Dutch gamblers primarily will be the big winners. They will be able to go to more suppliers, will get better products and will be protected by Dutch law if they gamble online; a market into which €275 million will be invested in 2015, according to researcher Gambling Data.
Foreign suppliers will want to adapt their assortment to the Dutch market, gambling consultant Willem van Oort (Gaming in Holland) says. “Gamers will then be able not only to place bets on Dutch football, but also on additional local sports, such as hockey and skating.”
But anticipating the next prime-minister is not yet a certainty. Van Oort: ”The bill does not yet offer the option for such offers of novelty-betting at this time. They are more just PR tactics for suppliers, rather than providing a lot of sales.”
Another advantage for the players: they will no longer have to declare their winnings for taxation purposes themselves. “The tax burden will be shifted to the supplier,” gaming lawyer Justin Franssen (Kalff, Katz & Franssen) explains. This will be good for the state treasury; the chance of suppliers making declarations is a lot bigger than players all doing so individually.
The competition between suppliers will become much more intense. Right now, the number of licenses issued is limited: the State Lottery has a monopoly, while De Lotto owns the licenses for the lotto game, betting on sports, and the instant lotteries (scratch-n-win). In addition, the Nationale Postcode Loterij (National Postal Code Lottery), the BankGiro Loterij (BankGiro Lottery) and the VriendenLoterij (FriendsLottery) have lottery licenses. A lot is at stake: all together, these lotteries made around €2 billion in 2012. All the licenses will expire on 31 December.
“This limited number of semi-permanent licenses will basically be a thing of the past,” Franssen says. “The new licenses will have to be issued in a transparent way. This can be done, for example, via a tendering procedure or a beauty contest. All suppliers that can meet the requirements will be eligible to compete; it will really be a matter of may the best man win.”
Foreign gaming companies have been wanting to enter the Dutch market for years. They want to offer sports competitions, online casino games and poker, for example. In addition, foreign lotteries are looking at our country with great interest, lottery expert Frank Bijman says. “But whether they will actually come to Holland will depend on the conditions. How high will the tax pressure be, what rules will they have to follow, will a percentage of the proceeds have to go to a good cause, such as NOC-NSF?”
Dutch companies will also have to join in the fight. Virtually all suppliers of slot machines have already purchased software they can use to offer online gaming, Van Oort says. Holland Casino has also picked a partner in order to be able to take the online gambling market by storm. Bijman: “And the Dutch lotteries will also want to offer bingo and scratch-n-win on the Internet, in additional to sports competitions.”
These parties will benefit from already having a reputation. But the online market requires a totally different know-how, Van Oort warns. “Not of only technical knowledge, but also marketing, helpdesk, you name it; it will all need to be in place. And if foreign suppliers are successful in 22 countries, there is a big chance that they will also be successful in country no. 23.”
One thing is sure: a marketing war is going to break out. Van Oort estimates that the parties will be spending up to €100 million on advertising on TV and in newspapers and on sponsoring sports clubs. And that is on top of the €120 million that the current lottery suppliers are already spending on that.
It is extremely uncertain whether Holland Casino, which had proceeds €539 million in 2012, will still be competing in its current form. The State, owner of the loss-making casino, would like to sell it. Franssen: “It makes sense for the casino to be divided into geographic portions and sold. The price? I suspect it will be low.”