The Netherlands as a country is famous for its relaxed laws on drugs and prostitution, but when it comes to gambling - and specifically online gambling - their liberal attitude hits a firm brick wall. Funnily enough, it is legal for Dutch residents to gamble online, but only on websites hosted in the Netherlands. Of which there are a grand total of zero.
The Dutch government haven't given out a single licence and have spent a great deal of effort blocking their citizens from betting on foreign sites. However, as is often the case with countries that attempt this, they've found it's almost impossible to police the internet and over 450 online betting sites still accept bets from Dutch residents. The Dutch government did at one point attempt to block online gamblers by blacklisting a host of sites and insisting the country’s banks shouldn't deal with them at all, but unsurprisingly, the banks refused. There has been success in limiting online poker, with figures suggesting its popularity is nowhere near the level of other European countries. This is believed to be largely thanks to the Dutch government aggressively preventing people from competing on international poker sites.
The gambling scene as a whole is under a state monopoly called Holland Casino, of which there are 14 throughout the country, each controlled by the government. Holland Casino actually applied for an online gambling licence recently but was rejected, leading to more pressure from the EU which objects to the Dutch government’s strict monopolisation of gambling.
The online sports betting section is a little different, as it's not controlled by the Holland Casino. Instead, it's under the control of two companies by the name of De Lotto and Scientific Games Racing B.V. The former handles the full range of sports betting markets with the sole exception of horse racing betting, which Scientific Games Racing B.V. exclusively deals with. De Lotto-owned toto.dl is the only legal online sportsbook available to Dutch citizens. Sports gambling is fairly subdued here when compared to the rest of Europe, again as a result of the strict regulations and limits.
Holland is one of the world's biggest footballing nations. Their orange shirts create a bright sea of enthusiastic - and loud - support wherever they go, while the Dutch team of the 1970s transcended the sport with the invention of 'Total Football.' The domestic Eredivisie is well followed and is the subject of a great deal of the sports betting in Netherlands. Interest in the English Premier League is high, with matches often appearing on satellite TV, while historic links with Barcelona give Spanish football a strong fan base.
Field hockey is the secondary sport in Holland, with the 2014 Hockey World Cup taking place in The Hague. The host team will definitely be among the favourites, with high hopes of securing a fourth World Cup triumph. Golf and tennis are also popular, while cycling is given equal importance as both a mode of transport and competitive sport. Dutch cyclists' impressive Tour de France achievements in the late 60s and early 80s helped to inspire a dedicated fan base which still remains strong today.
The landscape of online gambling in Holland is set to change dramatically in January 2015. The country is likely to grant licences to foreign competitors, spelling the end for its state monopoly on gambling. There will, however, be strict guidelines to which each operator will have to adhere to in order to gain a licence.
The Dutch government will drop the tax rate from 29% to 20% on profits from online gambling to increase competition from operators. However, agreements will be in place to prevent problem gamblers getting themselves into trouble, in addition to enforced contributions to a responsible gambling fund. The plan is to limit certain users' playing time and also monitor the situation through a national register of gamblers who violate limits.
The new laws haven't been confirmed yet, but draft legislation was published for parliament in May 2013. Given the current laws' outdated motives in relation to the rest of the EU, the legislation is expected to pass.
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