In a story from Gaming Intelligence issued earlier today, Holland looks to be the latest country in Europe to open up its online gaming options to include internet poker.
The story from Gaming Intelligence says the country’s Ministry of Justice created a special group called the Online Gaming Advisory Committee to look into the potential for expanding their current online gaming laws to include poker. The nation currently operates a state-run monopoly on online gaming, offering only sports betting and a national lottery through state-authorized sites. The findings from the Online Gaming Advisory Committee could affect the laws as they are currently written and enforced in the country.
The group, formed in September of last year, is a six-member body that investigated the current market conditions in Holland and the application of the country’s laws toward online gaming. According to Gaming Intelligence, the recommendations from the committee support legalization of online poker in much the same way that France recently opened up its online gaming market. The reasons for the suggested changes are twofold, according to Gaming Intelligence’s reports.
First, Holland already licenses sports betting and a national lottery, which the committee found haven’t caused any problems under current national laws. Secondly, the committee found that “illegal” variants of online gaming (including poker) already exist and haven’t been inhibited by the current legal system. The only way for the country to prevent access to the online sites, the committee found, was for the different Internet Service Providers (ISPs) throughout the country to block the sites.
There are a couple of other reasons that the committee may have found to change the current stance in Holland. By blocking ISPs in the country, Holland would run afoul of the European Union’s free trade policies and treaties. This could lead to sanctions for such violations. It is also possible that the government committee saw another source of revenue that the country could bring into the fold during the current economically sluggish period.
The European Union has been battling the issue of online gaming since the industry first appeared in the late 1990s. Each of the 27 member states have signed treaties that promote free trade and commerce, but many nations have attempted to circumvent those agreements at various points over the last decade. The European Court of Justice, where disagreements are heard between member states, has repeatedly emphasized European Union law over individual nations’ laws regarding the question of online gaming and continuously questioned the different national monopolies that some nations, such as France and Holland, had established.
Earlier this year, France overhauled its three year old state run monopoly on gaming and created ARJEL, the country’s online gaming regulatory authority, to handle the dispersal of online licenses in sports betting, horse racing, and online poker. In June, ARJEL seamlessly handled the licensing of such online sites as PokerStars, PartyPoker, Everest Poker and bwin, among others. It is thought that Holland will be trying to implement a system much like France’s in the near future to handle their online gaming issues.