New Dutch Law: More of the Same

6 August 2007

Dutch Minister of Justice Ernst Hirsch Ballin has submitted draft legislation covering games of chance to "a number of interested organizations" for comment, which, if approved, could replace the country's games-of-chance policy drawn up in 1964.

According to a prepared statement from the Dutch Ministry of Justice, a hard-line approach to illegal gambling and the bestowal of more power to Dutch law enforcement authorities to levy fines against offenders are the main thrusts of the draft legislation.

The new Betting and Gaming Act (B&GA) will make it possible to annul decisions by the Betting and Gaming Authority (BGA) when they pose considerable risks to the restrictive games-of-chance policy in the Netherlands. When the new law enters into force, the Netherlands Gaming Control Board will cease to exist.

Nevertheless, the new legislation will continue to restrict casino ownership and Internet-based gambling to the state-run monopoly, Holland Casino. The Netherlands is under fire from Brussels for refusing to allow other companies to set up legal casinos within its borders. The monopolies remain in place.

The draft legislation includes provisions for the establishment of a new gambling sector watchdog, the BGA, to deal with licenses and to take action when licensing conditions are broken. Currently, only the courts are allowed to deal with licensure-related violations, which fall under the Dutch criminal code.

The BGA will also tackle promotional games, such as TV phone-ins, that are currently unregulated. In addition, the new law will define more clearly what can be done with the proceeds of gambling: Money raised can either be given to a charity on an approved list or paid to the treasury.

Charity-based lotteries will also be required to draw up a five-year plan outlining how the proceeds will be distributed.

Under the new law, the BGA can go so far as to sentence operators of illegal casino games, commercial bingo, illegal horse betting, illegal lotto, illegal football pools and lottery sales can be punished with prison sentences of up to several months.

Illegal slot machines, Internet gaming machines, games of chance via the Internet and illegal poker tournaments are being investigated as well.

Click here to view a copy of the press release from the Dutch Ministry of Justice.

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.