Senate to vote on online gambling, firms queue up to apply for licences

Some 300 companies have expressed interest in running a gambling website in the Netherlands and about 50 are expected to make a formal application for a licence if senators vote to allow online gambling on Tuesday, the Financieele Dagblad said.

Tuesday’s vote comes two years after the lower house voted in favour of allowing third parties to legally offer online gambling. Holland Casino is the Netherlands’ only state-regulated gambling establishment but foreign firms widely flout the ban and continue to target Dutch punters.

The new law is restrictive and contains a number of element to try to combat addiction. Players have to register and state their limit and will be periodically reminded of the risk of addiction on screen.

The gambling firms will also have to appoint an addition expert and pay gambling taxes of 29%, which is one of the highest in Europe.

‘Individually the measures are okay,’ Rutger-Jan Hebben, head of the lobby group Speel Verantwoord, which represents big foreign firms such as Unibet and Betfair, told the paper.

‘But when combined together, you have to ask if there is enough room to actually place a bet,’ he said.

A survey among 15,000 adults by market researcher Motivaction for Holland Casino last month showed that illegal gambling has increased by 20% in the last two years.

Some 1.8 million people now admit to the occasional flutter, creating an estimated turnover of €600m and €175m in lost tax revenue. The most popular online games are poker, bingo, roulette and bets on sports results.

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