On 24 May, Dutch finance minister Marnix van Rij released an evaluation of the state’s shareholding in the NLO. The government plans these evaluations on a regular seven-year cycle for all state-owned assets. This year the main question concerned the status of the NLO and Holland Casino.
The report said that the lottery company would be “ready for privatisation both financially and organisationally”.
The NLO itself also made clear that this would be an avenue the business would support. It highlighted that it saw “no added value in state ownership for the safeguarding of public interests”.
Casino Nieuws highlighted van Rij’s comments in a letter to the legislature, pointing out that the NLO sees privatisation as an opportunity to “grow and needs more space to develop commercial activities and innovate in order to remain successful in the gambling market”.
The evaluation said that the options for the future of the lottery cover “a broad spectrum”. This could range from maintaining the status quo to selling all or part of the company.
NLO: Further exploration needed
In both cases, the ministry did not commit to any particular path, arguing that “further exploration” is needed. The ministries of finance and of justice and security will jointly conduct the evaluation.
This future examination will look at a range of issues. The ministry said that it will be necessary to find out how current legislation and regulations can be adjusted to ensure that privatisation is feasible.
According to the report, an essential part of the next steps will be to answer the question of how public interests can be safeguarded. The ministry also requested an estimate of the financial implications of privatisation.
No decision for Holland Casino
The ministry released a similar evaluation of state-owned gambling business Holland Casinos, but in that case concluded that further market development is required.
“No decision yet about exploration and the future of Holland Casino,” said minister van Rij. “As far as it is concerned, I choose not to make a decision at this time to start exploring alternative future options.”
The minister however took note that – despite its flaws – the current system appeared stable.
“It is worth mentioning that the current market organisation in which two gambling companies operate with the state as shareholder and the public interest as the focus is complex in design, but it functions,” said the minister.