Dutch government halts Holland Casino carve-up

20 May 2019

Unions have reacted positively to the news that the proposed privatisation of state-owned Holland Casino has been called off by Justice Minister Sander Dekker following political opposition to the plans from within the Senate.

Dekker announced on Friday that he would be withdrawing the Casino Gaming Modernisation bill, which was originally passed by the Dutch government’s lower house two years ago.

The FNV and De Unie trade unions hailed the decision, having expressed fears that the move could increase the risks of problem gambling and money laundering whilst harming working conditions for casino staff.

Under the proposals, 10 of the monopoly’s 14 casinos would have been sold off, whilst retaining the Holland Casino brand. The remaining four venues would have been sold separately while two new licences would have been awarded for new facilities.

It remains to be seen whether the casino bill – or an amended version of it – will be resubmitted at a later date. Holland Casino did not respond immediately to a request from iGamingBusiness.com to comment on the development.

According to Kansspelautoriteit, the country’s gambling regulator, political groups in the Senate had serious doubts about plans to coincide the privatisation with the introduction of the Remote Gaming Act, which was approved by the Senate in February, opening up the market to iGaming operators.

Holland Casino CEO Erwin van Lambaart said in April that the monopoly’s preparations for the online market launch were “on schedule”. The first licences are expected to be awarded in the middle of next year.

Holland Casino announced last month that it had posted a year-on-year drop in profit in 2018, despite a boost in turnover due to two new casinos in Amsterdam and Groningen.

Revenue totalled €656.5m (£566m/$740m), up 2.7% on the previous year, but profit after tax slipped from €73.5m to €59.5m and earnings before interest and deductions fell from €140.8m to €114.9m.

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