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The History of Betting in the Netherlands
Gambling has been intertwined in Dutch culture for centuries. As far back as the 18th Century, there is evidence of organised betting. The Nederlandse Staatsloterij (national state lottery) was first established in 1726, making it the oldest running state lottery in the world.
By the early 1900’s, there was a complete ban on sports betting and all other gaming activity, apart from the state lottery. This was in place until 1961 when sports betting in the Netherlands was legalised as a second state monopoly.
Gradually the government relaxed their stance on gambling and introduced new laws which allowed horse racing betting through a totalizer system. Furthermore, lottery and casino games were legalised, albeit through a monopoly and by the mid 1970’s, the citizens of the Netherlands were able to visit the first casino.
In order to regulate all of the gambling within the country, the Netherlands Gaming Control Board was formed in 1996. The purpose of this new entity was to control the six betting monopolies in the country (All of the different formats of gambling that were legal).
The Dutch government felt that by having a set company running each different facet of the betting market, they would be able to maintain a handle on the level of gambling, and the monitor practices of the firms selected.
Is sports betting legal in Netherlands? Not exactly although millions of Dutch people still place bets every year. The growth of the internet and the subsequent rise to prominence of online betting sites presented a new conundrum for not only the Dutch government but those in power all around the world who wished to strictly regulate their citizen’s gambling activities.
In a similar move to the United States, the Netherlands attempted to pass laws to ensure that banks would have to reject transactions requested by online betting companies not located in the country. However, these blocks were ignored by the banks who suggested they were unlawful.
As it stands, there are no legal online casinos in Holland (those on land are run by a solitary company Holland Casino). The aggressive approach of the regulatory authorities to online operators targeting Dutch clients was witnessed last year.
Dutch gaming regulator Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) fined ONISAC Ltd and Mansion Online Casino Ltd a combined total of €150k because their websites offered Dutch language options and accepted payment through the Dutch e-commerce system iDeal. A similar fine was imposed on Carribean based Global Stars, who were also considered to be actively courting Dutch custom.
There is however light at the end of the tunnel, and the Dutch authorities appeared to have succumbed to a combination of pressure from the EU and from the realisation that individuals will use foreign websites regardless, so they might as well benefit from the tax revenue that can be obtained from legalising online gambling activities.
Holland Casino has struggled and has been loss-making in the face of foreign competition, and this has initiated action from the government. Legislation to allow online betting in Holland was adopted by the Dutch parliament in 2016 but it hasn’t been approved by the Dutch Senate.
Progress to implement legal online betting in the Netherlands is expected to be slow with no clear changes expected soon.
Dutch Betting Sites
The sports betting monopoly in the Netherlands is run by De Lotto. Bets can be placed on sporting events in the shops and through the Toto website.
Compared to most bookmakers, the number of markets is very limited, with betting only available on football, hockey, cycling, formula one, basketball, baseball and tennis.
This is likely indicative of the low levels of trade conducted through the Dutch-owned website.
Betting Sites – Netherlands Residents Go Abroad
Despite the strict approach that has been employed by the Dutch authorities and lack of dutch betting sites, few foreign firms have followed the request to stop accepting Dutch custom. All our recommended bookmakers offer their services to citizens of the Netherlands.
Several bookmakers such as William Hill, Betsson, Unibet and Expekt all used to offer their websites in the Dutch language for online gambling. Netherlands gaming regulator Kansspelautoriteit has dished out several fines though and so these firms seem to have taken heed and have withdrawn this option to ensure they do not appear to be actively seeking custom.
This is not too much of a hindrance for attracting sign-ups from the Netherlands, as it is estimated that 86% of the population are able to converse in English.
However, Unibet and Betclic appear to have ignored the warnings and have continued with their operations to facilitate betting for Dutch citizens. Unibet offer customer support in Dutch for 16 hours a day and Betclic still have a Dutch translation option on their website.
In terms of online casinos, there are betting firms that still market their services directly to Dutch citizens, despite the threats of sanctioned by the government. Dutch betting sites Oranje Casino and Kroon Casino, both licenced out of Malta, present their website in Dutch, offer sign up bonuses to Dutch customers and accept i-DEAL as a method of payment.
In the light of pending changes to legislation, the companies have been purchased by Scandinavian giant Betsson, who aim to have a strong opening hand when the regulated market opens.
Betting Sites Netherlands – Banking Options
There are numerous different payment methods available for citizens of the Netherlands. As most of the major bookmakers offer their services to customers from the country, the regular options of bank wiring, debit and credit cards and a plethora of e-wallets are available.
Paypal, Moneybookers/Skrill, Neteller and the ever increasing in popularity Ukash option is also available. As mentioned above, some companies that specifically target Dutch customers (Oranje Casino & Kroon Casino etc.) also tailor their payment options, providing iDEAL, a popular payment intermediary used widely in the Netherlands.
The Most Popular Sports in the Netherlands
Undoubtedly the most popular sport in the Netherlands is football. The Dutch youth system is revered around the world and has produced household names such as Johan Cruyff, Dennis Bergkamp and Robin Van Persie.
However, despite the endless talent that has been produced at the footballing academies of Ajax, PSV and Feyenoord amongst others, the Dutch national side have never won the World Cup. Their best result was victory in the 1988 European Champions, but it would be fair to say that the Netherlands have not fulfilled their potential.
The Eredivisie is the top league in Dutch domestic football and whilst it is not as strong as it used to be, it still fosters the talents of many young starlets before they move on to the major European clubs. Betting on the domestic league, as well as the English Premier League and elsewhere in Europe remains popular. Dutch betting sites reflect this, and the range of odds and markets presented to Dutch residents is huge.
The second most popular sport in the Netherlands is field hockey. Whilst they are a country surrounded by neighbours who have a passion for Ice Hockey, the Dutch appear to prefer keeping the game on grass and with a ball, as opposed to on ice with a puck.
The men’s Dutch field hockey team has reached the final in four of the last six Olympic Games, winning gold twice. The women’s team is equally as dominant and retained their status as the best team in the world, winning Olympic gold at London 2012. Domestically there are two leagues; Men’s Hoofdklasse and Women’s Hoofdklasse that are covered by most of the larger bookmakers during the season.
Volleyball is also a popular sport at Dutch betting sites. Muay Thai and Kickboxing have high participation rates, both recreationally and on a professional level, with famous fighter Bas Rutten being born in the country.
Horse racing is popular in the Netherlands and there are racecourses at Groningen, Wasenaar, Wolvega and Alkmaar. Whilst there is not the equine talent on the level of Ireland, UK, France and Germany, there is a high level of interest in Trotting. As it stands, all betting on horse races and online pari-mutuel betting is run by Scientific Games Racing B.V.
Despite the confusion around gambling laws, sports betting in the Netherlands is a popular pass time. Many Dutch sports fans increase the excitement and get closer to the action by having a bet.
It’s not just traditional dutch sports though. As the world continues to spend more and more time online and on digital games rather than real ones, sport betting reflects that too and esports betting sites are growing quickly.
The Future of Netherlands Betting
Changes are expected over the next few years in Dutch online betting. Netherlands bookmakers and foreign betting sites are rubbing their hands together at the prospect of gaining increased and legal exposure to a population who enjoy gambling.
Companies are already jostling for position, with the likes of Betsson already positioning themselves well by acquiring companies which are well known by Dutch citizens. Ultimately any new regulation will open up the market but will clamp down on individuals who use unlicensed websites, with taxes being imposed for those who ignore the guidelines and rules.
The Netherlands are historically a socialist country and there appears to be genuine concern from government to ensure that gambling is undertaken in a controlled and non-detrimental manner.
Online Betting FAQs
Yes. Online gambling is legal in the Netherlands; however, the catch is that it has to be done on websites that are hosted in the country.
European or decimal odds are the most common in the Netherlands and across Europe. In the UK and Ireland, odds are usually fractional. Most betting sites offer you the choice of how you want to display odds.
Yes. Accumulators can be a very good way of boosting your betting odds, however, they are more difficult to execute than singles. If you do land one though, acca’s can give huge payouts.
Most major bookmakers offer extensive markets and odds on Dutch football. Shop around to find the best odds and free bets.