Known as one of the most progressive countries in the world, the Netherlands is a great place for those who want to place bets online. Despite the largely liberal views of the Dutch, gambling and betting have been offered by state monopolies for a long time and the market has started opening to private and foreign operators only in recent years. Now, sports betting fans in the country of tulips have access to some of the largest online sportsbooks and can place bets on a wide range of sports and leagues.
Similarly to most European countries, the Netherlands has a long tradition of gambling – its state lottery, the Nederlandse Staatsloterij was first established in 1726. But the Dutch have not always been very liberal when it comes to gambling and betting and the lottery was the only legal form of gambling up until the 20th century. This gradually changed and in 1961, a second state monopoly was launched, the De Lotto, which was responsible for all sports betting operations in the country. Casino games and lotto products were also given monopoly status in the 1970s and slot machines in bars were commercialized during the following decade.
The gambling and betting industry in the country was regulated and licensed by the College van Toezicht op de Kansspelen, or the Netherlands Gaming Control Board. The Board was established in 1996 and it operated until 2012 when it was replaced by the Dutch Gaming Authority (Kansspelautoriteit or KSA). For many years, online betting was not regulated in the country and authorities tried to block offshore betting sites available in the Dutch language.
They also placed a ban on financial transactions to and from betting operators located outside the country. The banks, however, did not comply and continued to carry out gambling-related transactions as they believed the ban was an infringement of citizens’ rights. Over the years, the government has recognized the importance of the multi-billion dollar European gambling and betting industries for its economy. As a result, it introduced new regulations that aimed at controlling the new forms of gambling that came with the emergence of the Internet, the online sportsbooks and casinos.
Today, sports betting online is much more accessible in the Netherlands and players can take advantage of the many bonuses and special offers available to them. Some of the leading European betting operators provide their services to Dutch customers, offering great odds on thousands of betting markets, local payment options, and even customer support in the Dutch language. However, all of them operate within a gray legal area as there is only one licensed sports betting operator in the Netherlands, the monopoly called De Lotto (Lotto B.V.).
Legality and Regulation of Sports Betting in the Netherlands
The KSA is currently regulating and overseeing the sports betting operations in the Netherlands, both land-based and online. However, foreign operators are not allowed to offer their services to Dutch customers, although most of the websites can be accessed from the country. The regulator has imposed huge fines to multiple betting companies in recent years, after finding that their online platforms targeted customers in the Netherlands and accepted bets without having a license.
Bettors, on the other hand, are not prosecuted and in practice, they are able to register and place bets at various online sportsbooks without having to worry about being fined. The good news is that soon, offshore operators would be able to apply for Dutch licenses and offer their services legally within a regulated market. The new legislation, known as the Remote Gambling Bill, is expected to be passed and implemented in 2019.
Dutch Gambling Act of 1964
The main piece of legislation dealing with gambling activities is the Dutch Gambling Act of 1964 (Wet op de kansspelen). Under this law, all forms of gambling or betting that are not licensed are practically prohibited. This includes online betting on sports events. The law defines sports betting as providing an opportunity for participants to guess or predict the results of sporting competitions.
Currently, land-based sports betting products are offered on the basis of exclusive semi-permanent licenses. The revenues from such operations are allocated to different projects and programs in sports, culture, public health, and social well-being. Land-based betting and gambling operators are required to pay a gambling tax (kansspelbelasting) at a rate of 29%. The tax was temporarily increased to 30.1% in 2018. This is a source tax and is based on the prize value – it applies only when the prize exceeds €449. It is levied not only from operators but from customers, as well.
Remote Gambling Bill
The so-called Remote Gambling Bill, originally proposed in 2015, is yet to be passed into law by the legislature. In 2016, it received approval from the Lower House of the Parliament and went to the Senate where it is yet to be approved. In September 2018, the draft legislation was published for public consultation and final approval is expected sometime in 2019. The Bill defines remote gambling as gambling and betting services “provided at a distance using electronic means of communication”. The definition covers online and mobile betting.
When passed, the Remote Gambling Bill would allow for an unlimited number of licenses to be granted for two major categories, namely sports betting and casino gaming. The licenses would be issued for a maximum period of 5 years to operators based in the European Union. There may be some exceptions allowed but with great restrictions imposed on non-EU operators. In order to be granted a license, online sportsbooks would also need to have specific problem gambling prevention policies in place – self-exclusion options, deposit limits, etc. Policies that guarantee the integrity of sports should also be included. Remote gambling operators would be required to pay a 29% tax on their GGR (gross gaming revenue).
Dutch Sporting Events Coverage and Markets
Online sportsbooks available to Dutch bettors accept wagers on a wide range of sports and the many of the large sites would have thousands of betting markets you can choose from. It is important to know, however, that compared to other European nations, the Dutch are not particularly avid bettors. This could be explained with the lack of regulation in the sector and the current restrictions on online betting advertising. Once the Remote Gambling Bill is passed into law, the liberalization of the market would enable more people to bet on their favorite sports and teams from their computers and mobile devices.
What the Dutch do love, however, is soccer – the country is home to around 1.5 million soccer players, which is quite impressive considering the entire population of the Netherlands is approximately 17 million. It has also given the world legendary players such as Johan Cruyff, Marco van Basten, and Denis Bergkamp, as well as the concept of total football. The extensive TV coverage of domestic leagues and international championships reflect the popularity of the sport, as are the thousands of soccer betting markets available to online bettors.
They can place wagers on the Eredevisie (the top-tier professional league in the Netherlands), as well as on other popular European leagues such as the Bundesliga (Germany), the Premier League (England), or the Primera Division (Spain). Of course, bets can be placed on the Champions League, FIFA World Cup, UEFA European Football Championship, or Copa America.
Another sport that is very popular in the Netherlands is field hockey, with many youngsters playing in the junior league of the Royal Dutch Hockey Association. The women’s national team has won the World Cup six times, becoming the most successful team in the history of the competition. The men’s field hockey team has also won the World Cup three times. Fans of the sport can place bets on these international competitions or choose from select domestic markets, available at some of the largest betting sites.
Interestingly, baseball is one of the most beloved sports in the country and in fact, the Netherlands national team is the most successful team in the European Baseball Cup, winning the title 22 times. It also regularly plays in the World Baseball Classic and some of its players are also MLB (Major League Baseball) stars. Bets are available, of course, on all MLB events, as well as on various local competitions and leagues such as the Mexican LMP or the Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan.
Basketball, volleyball, and cricket are quite popular in the country, with the Dutch national teams having some success on the European and the global scene. Rugby union and ice hockey are also played in the Netherlands, although it is korfball that enjoys greater participation. The mixed-gender sport was invented at the beginning of the 20th century by a Dutch schoolteacher and although it is very popular among young people in the country, it is rarely found on sports betting sites. Wagers on volleyball, basketball, rugby, and cricket, on the other hand, can be placed on most online betting platforms.
Bets on cycling competitions are also available – and the Netherlands is probably the country where this type of transportation is the most popular one. There are more bicycles than people here, after all. Of course, many international bookmakers would offer odds on the Olympic Games, American football, tennis, winter sports, golf, swimming, boxing and fighting (Muay Thai and kickboxing are particularly popular), horse races, and motorsports. Some betting sites even give Dutch bettors the opportunity to wager on the outcome of local and traditional sports such as Frisian handball, canal jumping (fierljeppen), kolven and Klootschieten.
Popular Odds Format in the Netherlands
For many bettors, wagering on sports is just a favorite pastime, but in order to win, they tend to bet on sports and leagues they have extensive knowledge of. But the knowledge and the choice of a good betting website cannot guarantee success. Every sports betting fan knows well that the favorable odds are probably the most important factor for being a successful bettor in the long term. The odds indicate the expected returns of a winning bet and they basically represent the expected probability that a certain team or athlete would win.
But there are several formats of odds that are usually used by online bookmakers, namely money lines (also known as American odds), fractional odds, which is are mainly used in the United Kingdom and Ireland, and the decimal odds. The decimal format is the most common way to express the odds across Europe and the Netherlands is no exception – most online bookmakers offer decimal odds, while some of them also give bettors the option to switch between the three alternatives.
So, how would sports betting fans find out whether the odds offered for a specific sporting event are of good value? First of all, they need to have a good knowledge and understanding of the particular sport, league or athlete they are betting on in order to decide which team is more likely to win. In other words, they need to decide for themselves who the favorite is and who the underdog is. Once this is done, they can take a look at the odds, shown in a decimal format.
Even odds in the decimal system are represented as 2.00. To calculate the possible payout, you need to multiply the amount you wager by the odds value – if you bet $100 and you win, you will receive a payout of $200. This is the $100 initial wager plus the winnings of $100. If you win a $100 bet on 1.5 odds, on the other hand, you will receive $150. At such odds, bettors need to wager more than the winnings they can expect.
Payment Solutions for Sports Bettors from the Netherlands
The Netherlands is one of the member states of the European Union that use the Euro (EUR, €) as their official currency. Of course, international online bookmakers also offer payments in USD, GBP, CAD, and other major currencies. When it comes to the methods of payment, Dutch bettors can choose from a wide variety of options, ranging from traditional wire transfers and credit cards to digital wallets and instant bank transfers.
It should be noted, however, that punters who wish to use specific local payment processors such as iDEAL in order to bet online, should rather look for some alternatives. The Dutch regulator, the KSA, has started imposing huge fines to international bookmakers who cater to customers based in the Netherlands. Until the Remote Gambling Bill is passed, it would be practically illegal to provide betting and gambling services to Dutch customers. Several betting sites have already been fined by the regulatory authority for offering customer support in the Dutch language and iDEAL payments.
Credit and Debit Cards
All major brands of credit cards can be used in the Netherlands, including Visa, Mastercard, and American Express. However, as the Dutch are not particularly fond of debt, they are more likely to use debit and prepaid cards linked to their banking accounts. Whichever type of plastic card they opt for, they would be able to make deposits and withdrawals to and from sports betting sites.
Funding an online account via one of these cards is instantaneous and often, free of charge. Most betting sites also offer free withdrawals to credit and debit cards, although the processing time for these transactions typically ranges between 2 and 5 business days. By using a major card brand such as Mastercard or Visa, bettors can rely on secure transfers that are insured for theft, loss, and damage.
Another widely used payment method, especially for gambling and betting online, is the digital wallet. Dutch-friendly betting sites would typically offer at least one or two e-wallets, which allow transfers to be made easily and within seconds to and from the customer’s electronic account. Digital wallets are, indeed, safe, reliable and easy-to-use tools that save personal and financial information in order to make payments instant and convenient for the user.
World’s leading brands such as PayPal, Neteller, and Skrill are usually available at online sportsbooks. Deposits through them are instant and withdrawing your winnings from a betting site would not take more than a day or two. Another great advantage of using them is that they come with no additional fees and charges. Many of the European-based sportsbooks also offer EcoPayz, an online payment service that facilitates fast, easy and safe transfers over the Internet. Along with the EcoPayz e-wallet, bettors can also explore the other options available on the official site of the service – a prepaid plastic card, as well as a single-use prepaid ecoVirtualcard.
Instant Bank Transfers
Most betting platforms would accept payments via traditional bank transfers and online banking but as almost everywhere around the world, some banks in the Netherlands tend to reject transactions to and from gambling or betting sites. However, there are services, described as direct bank transfers or instant bank transfers, and they function as intermediaries between the banks and the online merchants.
As these services work with specific banks or banking groups, their availability is usually limited to a particular country or region. The most popular such payment method in the Netherlands is iDEAL, a local service, specifically created for Dutch customers who have online banking accounts at Dutch banks. Betting sites that offer it, however, are currently being targeted by the KSA, so it would probably be a better idea for bettors to find some other means of depositing and withdrawing their winnings from online sportsbooks. There are various other alternatives such as prepaid cards like Entropay and Paysafecard, cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, or online banking.
Bonuses and Rewards for Dutch Sports Bettors
As Dutch betting sites are usually offshore brands that cater to European customers, the promotions are quite standard and bettors can expect decent sign-up bonuses when they decide to make a deposit for the first time. There are rarely no-deposit bonuses and the amount of the free bets is average, compared to sportsbooks that operate in unregulated markets. Still, Dutch betting fans can enjoy the safety and reliability of licensed, well-established betting companies, even though they are still unable to apply for a local license.
Moreover, the promotions offered by Dutch-friendly betting sites come with clear terms and conditions and very few of the bonuses are subject to rollover requirements. Still, the specific terms vary considerably across different platforms and depend on the type of promotion. Deposit bonuses, for instance, are usually given to newly registered customers and they are capped to a certain amount. In order to qualify for them, bettors should wager their deposit and then, they can receive bonus funds of up to 100% or 200% their deposit. Once the bets are settled and the bonus amount wagered two or three times, the bettors are allowed to cash out their winnings.
Many online sportsbooks also offer free bet tokens to those who lose their first bets or to those who manage to wager a specific amount of money within the first week after registering their account. Such free bets are usually given after the bets you have placed are already settled – there may be some requirements such as minimum odds, specific markets, or qualifying types of bets. Free bets are typically granted for either singles or accumulators, never both. Of course, most betting sites also have VIP programs and loyalty schemes that reward those who deposit and wager more.
Customer Support at Dutch Betting Sites
As the betting and gambling market is still unregulated in the Netherlands, there are hundreds of offshore online platforms that accept bets from Dutch punters. Some of them are operated by large betting companies that are authorized and licensed from widely respected regulators such as the Malta Gaming Authority and the Gambling Commission in the United Kingdom. Others, however, lack proper licensing and are known among the sports betting and gambling community for their less admirable fair play and payout policies. The customer support available at such betting sites is also less reliable than we would want to.
This is why bettors should always carefully choose the online sportsbook they would bet real money on. Good betting operators would offer professional support service that is available around the clock via live chat, email, or by phone. Very few betting sites provide local support in the Dutch language but this is hardly a concern for the Dutch betting fans – the majority of the people in the Netherlands (around 80%) are fluent in English and half of the citizens in the country speak at least three languages.