Monday May 6,2013 : BAD TIMES FOR HOLLAND CASINO
Could legalised online gambling make a difference?
Financial problems are growing for the Dutch state-owned land gambling monopoly Holland Casino, reports the ANP news agency, noting that the gambling group posted a loss of Euro 652,000 last year and came under further pressure in the first three months of this year.
The organisation, which may soon be privatised, according to various government statements, has been hit by falling visitor numbers and may be unable to meet agreements with the banks this year, ANP reported.
Visitor numbers fell 2 percent to 5.6 million last year while average spending per client fell by Euro 2 to Euro 96. The company said in November it would shed 400 of some 3,000 jobs but now says additional cost-cutting measures will be necessary.
"Our focus is on further reducing costs and making the organisation more efficient and effective," chairman Dick Flink said this week.
After years of vehement opposition to online gambling, in more recent times the Dutch government has started moving towards a regulated and licensed online gambling system, and currently has a draft bill under review and destined for presentation to parliament this year.
In February this year it was revealed that the draft measure contains some proposals that will definitely merit further debate, including a ridiculously high tax rate of around 29 percent on GGR .
Around the same time, Holland Casino issued of a Request for Proposals, which called for experienced online gambling providers to come forward to initially set up a free-to-play website before end 2013, with a view to eventually converting to real-money activity when the politicians had passed the relevant legalization.
The results of the RFP were scheduled for announcement mid-2013, but only a month after the closing date for submissions, the casino cancelled its tender, leaving the industry to speculate on what is going on behind the scenes.
Amidst the various statements from Dutch government spokesmen was one which indicates that the Dutch may be considering emulating the Danish regulatory model.
One spokesman said recently: “Holland is a small country and is leaning towards the Danish model in many aspects – closed liquidity would simply not be feasible and .com operators would still keep a strong market share.”