Dutch Government Liberalizes Online Gaming Laws

Many experts say that the UK online bingo market is saturated and that this year will see several mergers and that many smaller online bingo operations will go out of business. Smaller bingo operations without a large marketing budget will be at a distinct disadvantage to those sites that can spend millions on television ads and show sponsorship. In recent years the bingo industry has expanded into Scandinavian and Spanish markets with great success. In Spain the imposition of a national smoking ban has had the same effect on the bingo industry as it had in the UK. Smokers are deserting bingo halls and are moving online to play bingo online game at bingo sites.

Recent moves by the Dutch government may be good news for the online bingo industry. Speculation that the Dutch government would liberalize online gaming regulations has been confirmed by industry observers. Reuters quoted Dutch government sources saying that the new coalition government will issue licenses to online gaming companies that wish to provide online gambling services to Dutch gamblers. Most online gamblers in the Netherlands have been ignoring the government’s ban on online gambling and continue to play regularly at poker and bingo sites.

The new policy is an about face from previous government policies banning online gambling. In the past the Dutch government had defended its ban on online gaming all the way to the European Union’s highest court, the European Court of Justice. Jaap Oosterveer, a spokesman for the Dutch ministry of public safety and justice told Reuters “It is a big shift, but this is a new government with a more liberal approach.” Fredrik Teeven, the state secretary of security and justice, said in a letter to the Dutch Parliament that Hundreds of thousands of Dutch citizens are defying the ban on internet gambling and that liberalization will allow the government more oversight of the online gaming industry. Teeven cited France, Italy, Austria, Britain and Sweden as examples of countries that have moved towards regulation rather than outright prohibition.

Teeven said the Netherlands should offer licenses to poker and bingo sites and also said that Dutch consumers should have an attractive range of online gambling options. Teeven stressed the necessity of safeguards against fraud and gambling addiction. The Dutch government estimates that the auctioning of Internet gambling and lottery licenses will produce at least 10 million Euros annually in new tax revenues beginning in 2012.

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