The Netherlands is to open up the online gambling market to competition in 2015, ending the state’s monopoly, according to draft legislation published on Wednesday.
Currently, foreign firms are not supposed to target gamblers in the Netherlands, although the ban is widely ignored. The flouting of the ban has also had an impact on Holland Casino, the state-run gambling company which is currently loss-making.
Applicants for a licence to offer online poker, casino games and sports betting will have to meet ‘very strict conditions’, junior justice minister Fred Teeven said in a statement.
The proceeds of online gambling will also be subject to a lower tax rate of 20%, compared with the 29% Holland Casino and arcade owners have to pay. The lower tax rate is to ensure new entrants are encouraged to set up in the Netherlands.
The coalition agreement signed by the VVD and PvdA included the liberalisation of the online gambling sector. The current laws date back 50 years, before the advent of internet.
The draft proposals also state the licence holders will have to contribute to a special fund to help gambling addicts. In addition, there will be a national register of players who break self-imposed limits and will be banned from playing.
The draft legislation has now been put out to consultation for two months, before it is formally sent to parliament.