Online gambling participation in the Netherlands has grown by 20% over the past two years, despite the government denying its citizens a legal gambling opportunity.
New figures released by independent research and consultancy agency Motivaction International show that an estimated 1.86m Dutch citizens – in a population of only 17m – had engaged in some form of unauthorized online gambling for money at some point in 2018.
The 2018 figure represents a more than 300k increase in the number of online gamblers since Motivaction last surveyed the market in 2016. Motivaction estimates that the total unauthorized online market was worth €592m last year, essentially flat from 2016’s figure, and from which the Dutch government earns exactly nothing.
The survey, which queried over 15k respondents between the ages of 18 and 80 last November, was commissioned by state-owned land-based casino monopoly Holland Casino. Roughly 38% of these respondents copped to gambling of some form, while 18% admitted gambling online.
Sports betting tied with bingo as the most popular online gambling activities with 9% participation. However, online betting’s 9% was a much higher share of the 12% who admitted betting via any medium, compared to the 25% share of bingo players who played via any medium. Online casino participation scored 8% while poker earned a 7% score.
Among “high-frequency” online gamblers, their 2018 spending in the bingo and casino verticals was up 9.4% and 14.3%, respectively, from 2016. Online sports betting spending fell 9% while frequent online poker players saw their spending fall by more than half since 2016.
Strong majorities among all online gambling verticals expressed their preference for patronizing a Dutch-approved option, even though such a beast currently doesn’t exist. Bingo ranked lowest with 60% favoring a locally licensed option, while sports betting scored highest with 66%.
On February 5, the Dutch senate is scheduled to debate the country’s Remote Gambling Bill, which has been waiting nearly three years for its moment in the sun. Assuming no senators propose amendments requiring online gamblers to parade naked through the streets, the Bill could face a Senate vote on February 12.
While signs appear favorable for the Senate approving the Bill, every sports bettor knows that favorites don’t always pay off. Whichever way this shakes out, the Dutch gambling regulator plans to keep on developing “innovative” means of combatting unauthorized online operators, because the survey makes clear their current methods aren’t deterring squat.