In total 125 companies from the Netherlands and abroad have told the country’s gambling regulator they are interested in a licence to offer online gambling once it becomes legal in 2021.
Earlier this year the senate voted to open up the market to other companies after years of political tussle. Holland Casino is the Netherlands’ only state-regulated gambling establishment but foreign firms widely flout the ban and continue to target Dutch punters.
Two thirds of the licence requests come from outside the Netherlands and include big names such as Bwin, Unibet and Pokerstars, broadcaster NOS said.
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.
Lawyer Justin Franssen, who is acting on behalf of some of the applicants, told broadcaster NOS he expects many of the hopefuls to drop out of the process. ‘It is going to be expensive,’ he said. ‘You have to pay for the licence, tax and a percentage of your earnings must go into a fund to combat addiction.’
A survey among 15,000 adults by market researcher Motivaction for Holland Casino in February 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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