The Netherlands “explores” new options for Nederlandse Loterij, including the possibility to privatise the state-owned company.
The Dutch Finance Minister Marnix Van Rij published an evaluation on 24 May of the state’s stake in NLO. These evaluations are planned on a seven-year regular cycle by the government for all assets owned by it. The main issue this year was the NLO’s and Holland Casino status.
The report stated that the lottery would be “ready for privatisation, both financially and organizationally”.
It was also stated by the NLO that it would be a route supported by business. It stated that “state ownership is not a good way to protect public interests”.
Casino Nieuws highlighted van Rij’s comments in a correspondence to the legislature. The NLO views privatisation as a chance to “grow” and that it needs more space for commercial activities and innovation in order to be successful on the gambling market.
According to the evaluation, the options for the future are “wide-ranging”. The options could be anything from keeping the current status quo, to selling the whole or part of company.
NLO: Further Exploration Needed
In both cases the Ministry has not committed to a particular course of action, but rather argued that “further investigation” is required. The Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Justice and Security are jointly responsible for the evaluation.
The future study will examine a variety of topics. The Ministry stated that it would be necessary to determine how the current legislation and regulation can be adapted to make privatisation feasible.
The report states that the answer to the question “How can public interests be protected?” will be a key part of the next steps. The Ministry requested an estimation of the financial impact of privatisation.
No decision on Holland Casino
In a similar report, the Ministry evaluated Holland Casinos – a state-owned gambling company. However, in this case it concluded that more market development was needed.
Minister van Rij said that he had not made a decision about the future of Holland Casino or its exploration. “As for me, I have decided not to take a decision yet to explore alternative future options.”
The Minister noted that the current system, despite its flaws, appeared to be stable.
The minister said: “It’s worth noting that the current market structure, in which the two gambling companies are operated with the state as shareholder while the public interest is the main focus, is complex but works.”