Last week, VAN Kansspelen, the Dutch trade association which mainly represents land-based arcade hall operators, held its annual members’ meeting, followed by a product exhibition, as well as two informational sessions on video game wagering and scarce licenses.

Twenty exhibitors showcased their products and services to a large and receptive audience of ca. 200 VAN members.

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Competitive video game wagering

Boris van de Ven (Blammo Media) made a convincing case that there exists a great and rising demand among casual video gamers to wager on their own competitive multiplayer matches.

Hence, offering competitive video gaming (“eSports”) in combination with giving players the opportunity to wager on the outcome of their own matches could be an excellent method for the gambling industry to attract a new and younger audience.

Yet while the business case may be convincing, the present legality of such a set-up appears to be, at best, unclear.

Scarce gaming hall licenses

Following a ground-breaking decision by the Council of State dating from 2016, Dutch municipalities must now award scarce licenses – for instance for operating a gaming hall – in a transparent and equitable manner.

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Recently, the Association of Dutch Municipalities (VNG) published a guidance document outlining how municipalities may set up the tendering process to allocate scarce licenses.

In a number of important aspects, the guidance document reflects the advice submitted by VAN Kansspelen, public administration lawyer Cornelis van der Sluis (Ten Holter/Noordam Advocaten) said. In particular with regard to:

  • introducing new competition;
  • basing license allocation decisions on comparative assessments;
  • offering license durations that allow sufficient time for cost recovery and turning a profit.

However, the guidance document fell short with regard to suggesting transitional arrangements for license holders at risk of losing their licenses, Van der Sluis observed.

Also, since no specific license durations, e.g., ten or fifteen years, are mentioned in the guidance document, it would still be very much worthwhile for local gaming hall operators to try and get a seat at the table when municipalities draw up local license conditions, Van der Sluis said.

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