The government is to set up and run its own online gambling site to see if it can lure punters away from illegal internet casinos. Some 300,000 Dutch gamblers are estimated to dabble on illegal websites.
Gambling in the Netherlands is state-controlled but the the justice ministry has been unsuccessful in blocking foreign online casinos from attracting Dutch gamblers, despite putting pressure on popular internet pages such as startpagina.nl to remove foreign gambling sites.
Last night MPs voted to back the government’s online gambling experiment, which will run for two years. Younger gamblers will face a €100 euro weekly limit while those over 23 can bet what they like, despite concern that this will lead poorer people to lose too much money. Holland Casino, the state-run casino operator, will run the scheme. The experiment will be considered a failure if the overall number of gamblers increases.
Meanwhile the European Commission is investigating Holland’s state-controlled gambling sector and the government’s refusal to let foreign companies set up casinos to see if the Netherlands is breaking competition law. American gambling group Harrah’s – which operates Caesars Palace in Las Vegas – has applied to build a mega casino and leisure complex in Maastricht, but this has also fallen foul of Holland’s strict gambling laws.
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