The Netherlands is one country where the government is tolerant in many issues including matters of religion. And of late, the liberal political leaders seem to be gaining even more popularity. It cannot, therefore, surprise anyone to know that playing poker for money in the country is legal. In fact, the country boasts of around 14 casinos so far and poker players are looking forward to more of them opening.
However, considering how liberal the Netherlands generally is, 14 casinos cannot be considered a big number. Poker fans would be happier with more of them. The reason gambling venues are not as many as poker enthusiasts would like is that the country has licensed only one entity to run gambling activities in the whole of Netherlands. The entity holding this monopoly is the Holland Casino.
The fate of online gambling in the Netherlands
It is unfortunate for poker lovers in the Netherlands because whoever has no access to the few casinos run by Holland Casino has no chance of enjoying online poker or any other form of online gambling. If the country were to have sites to host online poker, those sites would have to be run by Holland Casino since it is the one licensed to run non-sports betting activities. Private investors who have tried over time to host online gambling sites in the Netherlands have had to bear the consequences in form of massive fines.
Betting enthusiasts in the country hope that one day soon the government is going to rethink the current state laws that prescribe a monopoly and pass state laws that accommodate other service providers besides the Holland Casino. In the meantime, they can only hope that Holland Casino will be more liberal and open online sites to offer online gambling. Even when it comes to sports betting, only one company has been licensed to run it and that is De Lotto. The only sport whose betting De Lotto does not handle is horse racing. Surprisingly, people in the Netherlands are allowed to place bets on sports online, even when online poker itself is prohibited.
Pressure to liberalize gambling in the Netherlands
As a member of the European Union (EU), it is becoming increasingly uncomfortable for the Netherlands to hold onto its restricting gambling laws when many of the other EU members have friendly state laws on online gambling. And with the freedom of movement that began with the establishment of the EU, citizens of other member countries expect to enjoy the same opportunities that the Dutch enjoy when they visit those countries. Obviously, those opportunities include the opportunity to play online poker legally and better opportunities to access brick and mortar casinos.
Surprise! More Than Half a Million Dutch Still Gamble Online
With the advancement of technology and governments not being able to keep up with comprehensive regulatory measures, poker players and gamblers in countries where online gambling is illegal look for loopholes and still access online sites that offer online gambling. Some of those sites are often hosted outside the country with restrictions. Many countries that were quick to legalize online poker and other online gambling activities saw an opportunity to net revenues for the government through taxation.
That is exactly what the Netherlands is missing out on. Already, over half a million enthusiastic Dutch players have found a way of partaking in online gambling. Unfortunately, the government is not benefiting from those gambling activities as tax can only be levied on legal activities. Hopefully, the government will begin to appreciate that online gambling is not about to go away and that it is better to make it legal and get an opportunity to regulate its operations and benefit from tax revenues.