Dutch state-owned land-based operator Holland Casino and national gambling industry trade association VAN Kansspelen have hit out at the government’s decision to keep casinos and gaming arcades closed until September, describing the decision as “irresponsible”.
Updated measures from the Dutch government mean that gambling facilities will not be allowed to open until 1 September at the earliest, having been temporarily closed since mid-March due to the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak.
However, both Holland Casino and VAN Kansspelen have criticised the extended closure, arguing that it negatively impacts business, and more than 8,000 people employed by the sector.
In addition, the two organisations said that players have been left with nowhere to go, which has in turn forced more punters to turn to illegal gambling online. The KSA recently noted a rise in unregulated online bingo and poker during the period of temporary closure.
As such, Holland Casino and VAN Kansspelen have called on the government to allow casinos and arcades to reopen, but with new measures in place to protect staff and customers. Holland Casino chief executive Erwin van Lambaart said this should happen as soon as next month.
“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,” van Lambaart said. “It causes enormous economic damage to the entire sector.
“We understand that we should not be the first to open again, but to remain closed for another four months is really unwise and unnecessary. We will be ready by 1 June at the latest to be able to open our branches, in accordance with government guidelines.”
VAN Kansspelen chairman Frits Huffnagel added: “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% of the costs are reimbursed. We have little confidence that this will also be the offer.
“We can open responsibly again, as advised by the Ministries of Justice and Security and Economic Affairs.”
Holland Casino and VAN Kansspelen added that they plan to hold talks with government ministers over the issue.