Dutch Lotto Launches Internet Sports Betting

24 September 2002

With "a little help from my friends" (the national lottery of Finland, that is), the Dutch "De Lotto" has launched Internet sports betting in the Netherlands.

Veikkaus, the monopolistic Finnish national lottery, is delivering the technology, which is based on the OnNet system, developed by Veikkaus' partner, HiQ Softplan of Finland.

De Lotto is the first Dutch operator to offer a complete betting and payment processing system via the Internet. Only registered players from De Lotto's jurisdiction can place bets on Dutch and international sports events.

De Lotto plans to introduce the rest of its Internet gaming offering early next year.

Veikkaus and OnNet

Veikkaus, with a turnover of EU1.066 billion in 2001, became the first national lottery to launch Internet gaming (also using the OnNet system) on Dec. 16, 1996. Its record for weekly sales is 1.3 million euro. Currently, there are 220,000 registered players, with over 1,000 new registrations every week. The sales under the OnNet brand represent 6 percent of Veikkaus' total sales. On the average, 13 percent of sports betting sales (for some betting products over 20 percent) come from OnNet.

With 350 employees, Veikkaus launched a new Internet gaming system Feb. 5, 2002. The next-generation OnNet2 system replaced the previous system, in use since '96. OnNet2 opens the possibilities for, among other things, the development of real-time betting on on-going sporting events.

The OnNet System

The integrated OnNet system, developed in-house by Veikkaus, provides a technological platform adaptable for increasing transaction volumes. With OnNet 2 came new architectural features, including the use of CORBA technology, to further improve the robustness and scalability of the system.

The GOLS system from GTECH and other gaming systems interface with the OnNet 2 platform; all games can be played both through OnNet and retail terminals. The transactions are stored in GOLS, but "OnNet only" games are housed on Sun Solaris Web servers, application servers and Compaq Alpha T/64 servers running an Informix database. The platform is completely mirrored (as are Veikkaus' other mission-critical systems) with hot backups running in an underground backup data center.

The gaming services are supported through the Web, VRU and WAP delivery channels. The supporting content is only available through the Web because of the limitations of the other delivery channels, namely the low bandwidth and low-resolution displays in WAP-enabled devices. Services for digital interactive TV are being designed.

The Web portal supports MS Internet Explorer, Netscape and Opera browsers (without preference for any of these). No plug-ins are required.

The client side is operated on HTML and JavaScript. JSP is used on the server side. The WAP portal has been tested with Nokia, Ericsson and Siemens WAP-enabled phones. The gaming services are also delivered through a text-only user interface, which supports almost any conceivable http browser even in conditions with extremely low bandwidth.

OnNet's player database includes player profile data, enabling the personalization of the players' portal experience. Static portal content is managed using standard tools like Macromedia Dreamweaver and Microsoft FrontPage.


The security of the system is based on firewall and SSL technology, with several application-level, built-in security features:

  • The player's bank account number cannot be changed by the user.
  • Sessions are active a maximum of 10 minutes, after which re-login is required. Note that the session starts when entering the first gaming transaction; user authentication is required at that moment and is valid for all OnNet applications ("single sign-on") while the session is active.
  • Transactions cannot be cancelled.
  • When the password is changed by the Helpdesk, any amount on the player's prepaid account is automatically sent to the player's bank account.

A Long-Term Strategy

Veikkaus believes strongly that regulated national lotteries should cooperate in the field of Internet gaming and, therefore, invites its fellow lotteries to "come together" to cooperate in game development, marketing and technology. The company has proposed a common domain software (CDS) model as a basis for partnership. In this model, Veikkaus would license the OnNet software to its partner lotteries for an annual fee. This licensing model would enable the partners to use and adapt the OnNet software for their Internet gaming activities. Any modifications would be included in the CDS and would be available to all partners without extra fees.

If a partner plans to develop an OnNet software feature, which would either significantly alter the system architecture or otherwise represent a significant new innovation, the partner may exclude it from the CDS. If the other partners wish to implement an enhancement not part of the common domain, they would agree separately on that feature.

"We can work it out," seems to be the Veikkaus' slogan. The CDS model would also enable partners to undertake joint development initiatives to implement, for example, new games in the system. As part of the CDS agreement, the partners would also establish a joint steering committee with meetings at least twice a year to coordinate their OnNet development. The CDS partnership would be open to all interested regulated national lotteries.

HiQ Softplan

HiQ Softplan, a Finnish IT company founded in 1987, is part of the Nordic IT consultancy HiQ Group. HiQ Softplan's customers include Veikkaus, Sonera and Nokia. The group, which employs over 470 IT professionals in Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Norway, reported 53.5 euro million in sales in 2001. The parent company, HiQ International AB, is listed on the Stockholm Stock Exchange.

De Lotto

In addition to sports betting (Toto), De Lotto, established in 1974, carries lotto, keno and instant tickets. In 2001,the Toto had a turnover of 14,895 euro (up from 13,512 euro in 2000). Lotto/Euro Lottery saw 131,468 euro in turnover in 2001 and 105,926 euro in 2000. Lucky Day: 25,662 euro/27,660 euro; Instant tickets: 71,949 euro/73,312 euro. The total revenue for De Lotto in 2001 was 243,974 euro, compared to 220,410 euro in 2000. The total turnover in 2001 of the Dutch legal gambling market grew by nearly 10 percent, up to 1.35 billion euro from 1.23 billion euro in 2000.

The Dutch Market

According to NIPO research commissioned by the Netherlands Gaming Control Board (released Nov. 20, 2000), the spending on foreign lotteries in the Netherlands is 70 million euro per year. Another study by NIPO, "Gambling via Internet," (released Nov. 22, 2001), showed that in 2001, the Dutch spent 18 million euro on "illegal" Internet casinos, VLTs and scratch cards. Ordering tickets via Internet or participating in a Dutch legal lottery counted up to 20 million Euro;

The Dutch government has granted gambling licenses to: the Statelottery, Holland Casino, the Care Lottery (a one-year license only), De Lotto, Autotote, National Postcode Lottery, SponsorLottery and BankGiroLottery. (The last three lotteries are run by international operator Novamedia in Amsterdam.)

New gambling legislation is being prepared by the Dutch government. The most important changes will be:

  • The number of licenses will be increased by three.
  • Conditions for running existing and new lotteries will be harmonized.
  • The position of the StateLottery will be subject to a review.
  • Product innovation will be stimulated.
  • A new gaming board will have more power.

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.