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Betting in The Netherlands

Published on: 08/08/2016

In the Netherlands, gambling is a state-run monopoly - a position that is often questioned by the European Union. There is a variety of wagering possibilities available to the Dutch citizens from lotteries, casinos and slot machines, to table games, horse racing and sports.

The Nederlandse Ataatsloterij - founded in 1726 - is the oldest state lottery in the world. All other types of lotteries were banned in 1848 and all betting games were banned in 1911. A change was eventually made to the Lottery Act in 1961, allowing legal betting on sports - this also came under the state monopoly.

In 1964, the New Gaming Act was created to supersede the old regulations. Horse betting was permitted on a pari-mutuel basis, and in 1974, Casino and Lotto games were granted a monopoly position. This led to the nation’s first casino being built in Zandvoort.

Legal gambling activities became prolific by the late 1980s when business venues were able to facilitate cash winnings on games machines. In the mid-90s, instant lotteries were also permitted on a monopoly basis.

Regulation and licensing of gambling is managed by five government departments: Finance, Economic Affairs, Justice, Welfare and Sports, and Public Health and Agriculture. The Netherlands Gaming Control Board or The College van Toezicht op de Kansspelen was set up to assist with the supervision of the gambling industry in 1996.

The Netherlands Gaming Control Board focuses on managing the country’s half a dozen legal monopolies, which include casino and lotto games, state lottery, instant lottery, horse betting and sports gambling, as well as several charitable lotteries. However, the board does not possess any official powers of enforcement or rule. The Gaming Control Board offers advice on an array of issues such as the interpretation of local laws, issuance and monopoly licences. A well-known company called Holland Casino manages the state lottery and at least 12 casino venues throughout the Netherlands. Holland Casino also supervises sub-licenced casino venues, known as “fair-play centres”.

Today there are over 90 gambling establishments throughout the Netherlands. Rotterdam and Amsterdam are home to five casinos each. Nijmegen, Groningen and Valkenburg have three casinos each, and two casinos can be found in The Hague, which is also where the International Court of Justice is situated.

A state-authorised monopoly called the Scientific Games Racing B.V. operates all of the country’s horse race betting and online pari-mutual wagering activities. Horse racing tracks are located in Alkmaar, Wasenaar and Wolvega. An organisation known as De Lotto controls the nation’s sports gambling monopoly. De Lotto’s betting establishments offer traditional bookmaking services - however, their products do not include wagering on football, which is very popular with the Dutch citizens. Surprisingly, sports’ gambling generates a lot less interest in the Netherlands compared to other countries within Europe.

Internet gambling does not generate a great deal of revenue for the state. The Dutch government have attempted on many occasions to prohibit the Dutch citizens from wagering online. Local banks in the Netherlands have been instructed to withhold transactions made on off-shore internet sportsbooks, and despite online poker being permitted, online sports gambling has been banned.

Despite this, the people of the Netherlands still frequent foreign betting web sites. Many Sportsbooks such as Bwin, Stan James, Unibet and Betsson welcome play from the nation. In fact, there are over 450 online sportsbooks available - some using the Dutch language.