REPORT The future of the Dutch lottery landscape | Gaming in Holland

REPORT The future of the Dutch lottery landscape | Gaming in Holland

On Tuesday afternoon, over eighty guests attended a discussion on the future of the Dutch lottery landscape at the premises of GiH partner LeaseWeb.

The afternoon’s program consisted of three separate sessions: Roelant Reizevoort and Peter-Paul de Goeij, managing directors of new market entrants Fair Share Nederland and Lottovate, respectively, discussed their firms’ plans for the (near) future. Responsible gaming expert Pieter Remmers addressed the relative risks of lottery games in an increasingly digitized environment. Former Lotto CEO Tjeerd Veenstra and gaming lawyer Alan Littler (a last-minute stand-in for Justin Franssen) shared their views on the regulatory and legal restrictions facing various lottery policy options.

New market entrants

“We will not be replicating existing products,” Roelant Reizevoort of Fair Share Nederland said. “We believe there is still room to launch something new.” Reizevoort further said that the first draw of his company’s as of yet unnamed lottery is currently scheduled for April 2018. “We will be targeting an audience that we know to be interested in lotteries: older and female.”

Dutch charity lotteries are required to donate 50% of their gross revenues to good causes. “There are currently close to 60,000 organizations in the Netherlands that are formally eligible to receive lottery donations,” Reizevoort added. “Every single player will be able to pick any of these as the beneficiary of their lottery spending. Who am I to determine which good causes should receive support and which should not?”

Peter-Paul de Goeij of Lottovate said that his company’s new Netherlands-facing lottery will launch publicly in early 2018. Players will not be able to purchase physical tickets, but will need to use a smartphone, tablet, or PC in order to participate. Prizes will revolve around shared experiences, such as an exotic trip with friends. “We aim for a younger demographic: players who are between 21 and 35 years old and who are unlikely to already be lottery players,” De Goeij added. “We also intend to focus on the potential social aspects of playing a game. In particular, the shared joy of winning.”

Lotteries and responsible gaming

Responsible gaming expert Pieter Remmers noted that lottery games, even when played online, are generally not particularly risky. Even so, as ever more lottery operators expand into other market segments, such as online scratch cards, casino games and sports betting, boundaries between traditional lottery games and more risky games of chance may get increasingly blurred.

Another notable observation made by Remmers was that, counter-intuitively, there exists no direct relationship between an increased game offering and a greater incidence of problem gambling. “When New Zealand legalized casino gambling in 1994, problem gambling rates actually experienced a slight drop in the following years,” Remmers said.

Liberalization versus restriction: whither Dutch lottery policy?

The proceedings were concluded by a discussion, moderated by leading IT lawyer Polo van der Putt, between former Lotto CEO Tjeerd Veenstra and gaming lawyer Alan Littler.

Asked about their predictions for the coming five years, Veenstra provocatively predicted that at least two (new?) charity lotteries would exit the market. Veenstra also noted that, based on developments in other European countries – especially with regard to overly aggressive marketing – it would not be far-fetched to imagine a return to a more restricted lottery regime in the Netherlands in order to head off a race to the bottom.

Taking explicit aim at the Netherlands Gaming Authority, Veenstra then remarked that further liberalization was far from inevitable as EU jurisprudence clearly allowed for restricted regimes. “At crucial moments, the Netherlands Gaming Authority failed to take proper action in order to protect the existing system,” Veenstra said.

A recently published report on the financial consequences of possible Dutch lottery market reorganizations was subsequently dismissed by Veenstra as “divorced from reality.” Of the four options under consideration, it would be best to simply go with “business as usual.”

Littler countered by stating that in his opinion “business as usual” would, with regard to a number of important aspects, almost certainly not be legally viable. As a result, ending up with an increased number of options for both consumers and good causes would, eventually, be all but inevitable.

So far, it is indeed the latter scenario that Dutch lottery policy appears to be moving toward.

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