Shortly before the whirlwind of Kalff Katz & Franssen’s Annual Gaming Industry Event, at which Holland Casino CEO Erwin van Lambaart spoke, and the ICE in London, the House of Representatives passed the casino reform bill on 31 January 2017. As I noted in the last edition of this blog changes in the lottery sector have arisen, ahead of those regarding remote gaming and reform of the casino regime. If this were a three-horse race, then the casino bill would be hot on the tail of the sluggish remote gaming bill.
The government intends to privatise Holland Casino and end its monopoly, through selling 10 of Holland Casino’s existing 14 venues to a single buyer and making the other four venues available to new operators. Two additional licences will be made available for (other) new market entrants. This is the 10-4-2 model. At the time of writing it is unclear which four Holland Casino venues will have to be divested.
Plans to modernise the gambling market have not gone down particularly well with some MPs, but opposition to the casino reform bill was much milder than that to the remote gaming bill. That said, a host of amendments and motions to the bill were tabled. Fortunately, for the future casino market and Holland Casino’s price tag, many were rejected during the plenary session. Unsuccessful amendments include that calling for keeping the number of venues to 14, a call for separate licences for table games and machine games, a call for casinos to be prohibited from opening between 3am and midday (weekdays) and 4am and midday (weekends), and a prohibition on other recreational activities within 500m of a casino venue. Similarly, the motion calling for the duration of licences to be reduced from 15 to 10 years failed to secure sufficient votes. That calling for a reduction in maximum stakes met the same fate.
Successful amendments included one for measures to prevent an entity in the same group as the holder of the ten licences from obtaining any other casino licence, and another which will enable the Gaming Authority to require a new casino operator to take on existing personnel at a venue. Furthermore, it will be interesting to see how the Ministry of Security & Justice will give effect to the motions which passed, including the call for limits on activities in the vicinity of casinos and a prohibition on bonuses and loyalty programmes.
The casino reform bill has now reached the Senate, a meeting scheduled for 14 February will set out the route which the bill will follow through the upper house.
It remains to be seen which bill will cross the finishing line first. Perhaps it will be a draw….