Dutch casino closure extensions criticised

Holland Casino has been told it cannot reopen its venues until September.
Holland Casino has been told it cannot reopen its venues until September.

The Dutch gaming trade association has criticised the government’s decision to extend the closure of the Netherlands’ casinos until September.

The Netherlands.- The national gambling industry trade association VAN Kansspelen has joined state-owned Holland Casino in criticising the government’s decision to extend the closure of casinos and gaming arcades until September 1.

The Dutch government has said that gambling facilities would not be allowed to reopen until at least September, meaning they would be shut for almost half a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Holland Casino, a state-owned monopoly with 14 casinos in the Netherlands, criticised the extended closure as “irresponsible,” saying that it would affect more than 8,000 people employed in the sector.

It also said that players were turning to illegal betting because of the casino closure, noting a recent report by Dutch regulator KSA on a rise in illegal poker tournaments during lockdown.

It instead called on the government to allow casinos and arcades to reopen as soon as next month.

Holland Casino Chief Executive, Erwin van Lambaart, said: “In our opinion, keeping the entire sector locked up for so long is irresponsible in view of our social channeling task: offering safe and responsible gaming.

“We understand that we should not be the first to open again, but to remain closed for another four months is unwise and unnecessary. We will be ready by June 1 at the latest to be able to open our branches, in accordance with government guidelines.”

VAN Kansspelen Chairman, Frits Huffnagel, said: “Recently, a lot of work has been done on an extensive protocol to open quickly again. In addition, there has been intensive contact with various ministries.

“It seems like the decision was made based on insufficient knowledge of the sector. The support promised [by the government] is only sufficient if 100 per cent of the costs are reimbursed. We have little confidence that this will also be the offer.”

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