Clash in the Netherlands

3 August 2006

Deliberations scheduled for Sept. 5, 2006 in the Dutch Parliament will cover a number of gambling-related issues, including Internet gambling. On tap are a verdict on second casinos in Dutch cities, the temporary online test of Holland Casino, efforts of foreign operators to open up a brick-mortar casino in Maastricht in the South of Holland and a letter of formal notice from the commission regarding sports betting in the Netherlands. However, since the Dutch government has lost its majority in the Parliament, important steps cannot be expected.

The hottest topic at the moment is a clash between Holland Casino and the Minister of Justice. With the backing of Amsterdam and Rotterdam, state-owned Holland Casino has started a court case against Dutch Minister of Justice Piet Hein Donner, who considered it unrealistic to honor the expansion of the Amsterdam and Rotterdam branches of Holland Casino on the basis that the cities already have a legal and reliable provision of casinos.

Holland Casinos, the Dutch casino monopoly, was granted the license by the National Foundation for the Operation of Casino Games in the Netherlands on Dec. 17, 1975. Holland Casinos has 12 casinos, including one in the tax-free area of the national airport, Schiphol, and plans call for a 13th casino to open in Leeuwarden in 2007.

The court has ruled that Minister Donner has the "discretionary power" to establish more than one casino in one city in the Netherlands, but he has since stated that he considers it undesirable for Holland Casino to expand to cities that already have a casino in the municipality (Amsterdam and Rotterdam) as well as to other countries. Requests by Holland Casino for foreign expansion have, therefore, been rejected as well. Donner would, however, like to make an exception for expertise and know-how agreements.

Through an election for a new lower house in the Netherlands (coming in November) a new government will be formed, and this new government may decide to open up second casinos in Amsterdam and Rotterdam.

Turnover for Holland Casino (Profit & Loss Account in Millions of Euros)

Gross revenue
Net revenue
Operating expenses
Interest expenses
Total expenditure
Net operating profit

Rob van der Gaast has a background in sports journalism. He worked for over seven years as the head of sports for Dutch National Radio and has developed new concepts for the TV and the gambling industry. Now he operates from Istanbul as an independent gambling research analyst. He specializes in European gambling matters and in privatizations of gambling operators. Rob has contributed to IGN since Jul 09, 2001.