Regulator Predicts Dutch Monopoly Collapse

  • KSA is preparing for a future without monopoly rights
  • State-owned companies also not needed, argues regulator
  • Online liberalisation to provide a test bed for land-based

The Dutch regulator has said it “goes without saying” that the country’s land-based gambling monopolies will be dismantled.

As the Dutch parliament moves forward with long-awaited plans to create an open licensing system for online gambling, most of the country’s land-based sectors remain under the control of monopoly companies.

Large lotteries, instant lotteries, sports betting and casinos are all controlled through exclusive rights.

But in a new “Market Vision” report, which the Netherlands Gambling Authority (KSA) has said will guide its future policy-making, the regulator suggests the monopoly system is ill-suited to the realities of the modern world.

“The KSA sees more room in the future for attractive games of chance offered by new providers,” said the regulator.

“It goes without saying that the current statutory monopolies and state-owned companies will eventually come to an end,” the regulator said, in a press release accompanying the report.

Current regulation, said the KSA, is founded on a principle of limiting harm by closely controlling a small number of companies that cover the entire market.

That thinking dates back to a 1964 law that still applies, but the current gambling world has changed so dramatically that a new approach is called for, argues the regulator.

Especially in light of the fact that online sports betting and casino games are due to be liberalised under the impending Remote Gaming Act.

Scheduled to come into effect next year, the law will allow for any operator to apply for an online licence, making it “logical” that a future government would look to apply similar changes to the land-based market, the KSA said.

Sports betting in the Netherlands is currently controlled by a subsidiary of lottery operator Nederlandse Loterij and Runnerz, which has an exclusive licence for pari-mutuel betting.

Casinos in the Netherlands are operated solely by state-owned Holland Casino, although gaming arcades can be operated by a number of different companies.

The KSA said that it would not only be sensible to open up the whole of this sector to multiple operators, but to do so “without state participation”.

Privatising Holland Casino has been on the government agenda for a number of years and was widely expected to be approved by parliament last year.

But in the face of last-minute objections to the sell-off, and fearing a re-run of repeated failures to pass online legislation, the initiative was put on the back-burner to safeguard the Remote Gambling Act.

In its report, the KSA says that although casino games have a higher risk profile than sports betting, that risk is even more pronounced online, which means that if legislators are happy gambling harm can be effectively controlled in an open online market, then the same should be possible in the land-based arena.

“At the moment there is no political support for a [land-based] casino market with an indefinite number of providers … [but] provided the first experience with an indefinite number of online providers of games of chance does not give rise to additional concerns,” that position may be reconsidered, says the report.

The KSA’s survey comes a day after the government said it would carefully consider a recommendation that it should break up the country’s lottery monopolies.

A report by PwC, commissioned by the Ministry of Justice and Security, said that consumers would benefit from a variety of lottery providers.

The KSA put together its Market Vision report as a result of a five-year review it underwent in 2017 and said it will use the document to guide its future decision-making.

Interested parties can respond to the document until August 20 by emailing the regulator using the details on its website.

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