Is the Dutch government starting to adopt a more enlightened approach to poker? This would appear to be a possibility following reports that Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin wants to increase the number of venues where Dutch residents can legally play poker for money in an effort to meet growing demand and reduce illegal gambling, report various media.
In a letter to MPs on Tuesday, the minister says he wants to experiment with permitting poker at venues other than the state-owned Holland Casino, Dutch reports.
At present Holland Casino has a monopolistic stranglehold on the poker market in the Netherlands.
Under the new scheme, Holland Casino could, for example, set up a poker table in other existing gambling venues, a report in De Telegraaf confirms. Prior research of the Dutch market has shown that a total of some 575 000 mainly males aged between 15 and 34 play poker "illegally" either in live games or over the Internet.
The suggestion is that this could be because there are only 14 Holland Casino venues in the country, and players may prefer smaller and more intimate venues.
The Minister's proposal includes a note that Holland Casino will work with the Justice ministry on setting up local poker facilities on an experimental basis, thus maintaining its monopoly.

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