AMSTERDAM Nov 28 The Netherlands plans to sell
its state-owned casino monopoly and legalise online gambling to
open up competition.
The new government, sworn in earlier this month, promised in
its coalition agreement to sell Holland Casino and said that
online betting and gambling will be legalised.
"It is unclear at this stage if it will be a sale or an
initial public offering. The government hasn't decided how the
sale will take place," Justin Franssen, a lawyer at VMW Taxand
who specialises in the gaming sector, told Reuters.
Holland Casino has 14 venues in the country's larger cities
and tourist spots, including Amsterdam and Rotterdam, although
they lack the glamour and glitz of Las Vegas or Macau.
They attract about a million visitors a year and earn a
modest profit of 3.8 million euros ($4.9 million) from more than
half a billion euros in revenues.
Last year, the Netherlands as a whole attracted more than 11
million visitors. The largest Dutch city Amsterdam, famous for
its canals, cannabis-selling coffee shops and world-class
museums, welcomes more than five million visitors a year.
Visits to Holland Casino's 14 different venues are on a par
with those who go to see the house where Anne Frank wrote about
hiding out from the Nazis during World War Two, but well behind
the kind of footfall that the Van Gogh Museum enjoys.
Franssen said he expects local arcade operators, British and
U.S. companies to be interested in the sale, but declined to
estimate the value of the casino business.
In the face of a weak economy and lower consumer spending,
Holland Casino said this week it would cut about 10 percent of
its workforce over the next two years to save 50 million euros a
year in costs.
($1 = 0.7733 euros)
(Reporting by Sara Webb, editing by Paul Casciato)