Dutch reaction to gambling legalisation (update)

Mixed feelings on media reports that a new Dutch government might legalise online gambling

Wednesday's De Telegraaf newspaper speculation that the incoming coalition government in Holland could be about to legalise online gambling (see previous InfoPowa report) has been followed by widespread reaction in the European country.

Radio Netherlands reports that, regardless of its presently illegal status, some 500 000 Dutch residents regularly gamble online, mainly with offshore operators.

A spokesman for the state's land casino monopoly Holland Casino told the radio station that it would like to operate a legal internet gambling site as a response to illegal offshore competition. By obtaining a licence and commencing operations, Holland Casino could "drive away illegal operators," the spokesman said, adding that it will be possible for online punters to gamble in safety.

The spokesman recommended necessary measures, saying: "Attention should be paid to adequate preconditions, such as an admission pass which must be picked up in person with a valid photo ID. A pre-set maximum amount, or the introduction of a 'cooling-down' button, would also create additional barriers."

Responsible gambling advocates appeared split on the issue, with the Tactus addiction centre recommending that government ask itself whether it should be stimulating gambling at all, and IVO, an addiction research outfit, saying it favours legalisation as a means to increase oversight and anti-addiction measures. Spokesperson Carola Schrijvers said: "if we do it right, and set the right conditions to operators, legalisation could be an advantage".

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