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Netherlands Online Plans Criticized

National gaming interests don't want more competition

The plan by the Netherlands to liberalize its online gaming market is drawing fire from the national slot machine organization VAN.

GamblingCompliance reported that Anette Kok, chairwoman of VAN and president of the Europe-wide slot lobbying group Euromat, believes the complete opening of the market is the wrong way to go.

“His plans are too liberal—the most liberal in Europe at the moment,” said Kok, referring to Fred Teeven, the state secretary for public safety and justice who is leading the government’s reform plans. “Other countries have a controlled opening, while here in the Netherlands it looks like we are going to legalize all forms at once with hardly any restrictions. Once you legalize the market in a liberal way you cannot return from this. You cannot take companies’ licenses back.”

VAN favors the Belgian model, whereby only those operators with an established land-based business may apply for an online gaming license. Together with Dutch lottery and sports betting operator De Lotto, VAN is lobbying the government to take this direction.

“It’s the best way to start with, see what happens and then open the market fully after four or five years,” said Kok. “That’s also the philosophy in Belgium, and so far it’s not been proven the Belgian system is illegal. I think we could do the same here legally.”