it has been about it for years: the Holland Casino would be privatized. Minister Sander Dekker of Legal Protection tells this in May 2019, after he saw his proposal not passed through the Senate in February 2019, after the adoption of the Remote Gambling Act. He would initially come up with a new proposal, but now he declares that privatization is completely gone. At least for the time being, because we will expect a new proposal someday.
The privatization of the Holland Casino, what is the situation again?
Before we talk about privatization, first a bit of history: the National Foundation for the Exploitation of Gambling, founded in 1974, was the first to receive a casino license from the Dutch government on 17 December 1975. To this day, this is also the only casino license in the Netherlands. The Foundation operates under the name Holland Casino and opened the first casino in Zandvoort on October 1, 1976. We are now many casinos further, and the Holland Casino is still a state-owned company.The Holland Casino in Zandvoort was the first casino in the Netherlands. There have been some scandals. According to the official reading, the reason for the government not to issue more casino licenses is that the Holland Casino is the only one able to implement gambling addiction, or rather, the prevention policy. The unofficial lecture could be that competition means that the state earns less (because if fewer people go to the Holland Casino then …). Anyway, the prevention policy, both against gambling addiction and against money laundering, appears to be not working so well yet. The director of Subaru gambles 23 million, but despite his obvious addiction, he can continue to come to Holland Casino and is also rewarded. With cash machines in the casino you can withdraw amounts of € 2500, which is not really preventive. And money laundering cases have also become known. So far, the state-owned company is not really doing what they have to do. Stories also come out that the training of employees is a travesty, and there is even cessation. Not a very good advertisement for the company. Yet, after years of malaise, the casino is now running fine again. And so it brings quite a bit of money to the draw. But with Holland Casino the State has a monopoly position in the field of casino games, and that is the reason that the word privatization has come to the fore more and more in recent years.
Privatize by 2020
The previous Rutte cabinet already agreed that offering games of chance should no longer be part of the government's duties. And so the Holland Casino should be privatized. Why no plans have yet been made for the Staatsloterij, now part of the Dutch Lottery, can be guessed. This dairy cow still yields a lot of money and fewer problems (at least it seems). Moreover, it seems that the European Union has had some influence on the government's decision to look at privatization of the Holland Casino. The European Union seems to have a more liberal policy with regard to gambling, but finds this a commercial matter. Other countries have also been blamed for monopolistic behavior. It is also somewhat strange that the government has granted a license, only to a state-owned company, and not to any competitors.The government believes that offering games of chance is no longer appropriate for their duties, and so Minister Dekker was allowed to work under Rutte III. His proposal was to sell the Holland Casino. This would happen in two parts: a cluster of ten branches and a cluster with four branches. The House of Representatives already voted for the plan in January 2017, but it took until the beginning of 2019 before it was submitted to the Senate, with the plan to achieve this in 2020. Dekker probably thought that now that the KOA was about to be hired, he would cycle through this proposal. But the Senate voted against. The reason? This is twofold, the sale in two parts does not sufficiently guarantee the future of the company, and there are concerns about the prevention policy.
Dekker indicated in February 2019 that he would adjust his proposal and offer it again. The cabinet wanted to receive this before June, because it wanted to deal with this issue in its current composition. This turned out not to be feasible in mid-May and Dekker admitted to BNR news radio that the job was privatized. So for the time being, the state-owned company will not continue independently. For Holland Casino CEO Erwin van Lambaart, the decision is not a big surprise. It also does not confuse his plans. His company's long-term strategy is based on multiple scenarios, so there is always an alternative plan. And Lambaart does not expect the privatization to be definitively off the track, he believes that this will really happen. How and when, that is the question. At least not next year, that much is clear, and probably not the following years. As it looks now, the next cabinet may only make another attempt to come up with a suitable proposal. In the meantime, they are still ironing the state treasury with the income from the Holland Casino.