Dutch government sets out plans to privatise Holland Casino in 2017

The Dutch government has confirmed plans to move forward with the privatisation of Holland Casino, aiming to sell off its stake in 2017 and setting out its plans in a new bill introduced to the House of Representatives.

The bill, introduced by State Secretary of Finance Eric Wiebes, states that the Dutch government no longer needs to serve as a stakeholder in the country’s gaming sector.

Holland Casino’s privatisation had already been agreed by the country’s coalition government, comprising the conservative-liberal People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) and Partij van de Arbeid (PvdA), with Wiebes’ new bill setting out how the process will be handled.

The proposals set out a number of conditions that have to be met for the sale to be completed, with Holland Casino to lose its monopoly status as a result.

Currently Holland Casino operates 14 casinos across the Netherlands, with 10 to be sold off under the Holland Casino brand name and the remaining four to be sold separately and operated under different names. Wiebes has not yet decided which four will be sold separately.

A further two casino licences will be awarded, bringing the total number of licensed venues in the Netherlands to 16.

To be sold, the business must be profitable, though this is unlikely to be an issue with the operator posting a profit of €67m for 2015, following a major restructuring and cost-cutting drive across the business after years of financial hardship.

Potential acquirers must also set out strict social responsibility and anti-crime controls to ensure the business and its customers are protected from gambling addiction, fraud and other illegal activities.

Holland Casino will now conduct a market analysis to identify potential acquirers, and gauge the best location for the two new licensed venues ahead of the privatisation, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2017.

Wiebes admits that the move may initially hit government revenue, and expects to lose around £50m in revenue over the first year following the sale.


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