Date: 17.05.2024

by Adam Dworak

Dutch Coalition Agrees to Gaming Tax Increase Amid Industry Backlash

First reported by Casino Nieuws, the tax increase was included in the budgetary appendix to the coalition agreement between the PVV, VVD, NSC, and BBB parties. The parties, which will collectively form the next Dutch government, finalized the deal in late-night talks on Wednesday, May 17.

The coalition, generally considered to be more right-wing than the current government, is led by politician Geert Wilders. The agreement predicts that the tax rate increase will raise an additional €202 million. This move aligns with a November commitment by seven parties to raise between €200 million and €400 million through increases in the gaming tax.

Historical Context and Industry Response

The tax hike comes three years after the launch of the Dutch regulated market in 2021. Since its inception, regulation has tightened significantly, most notably with the government opting to ban most forms of gambling advertising in July 2023. This move was heavily criticized by the local industry, which argued it would lead to arcade closures and damage supply.

Industry Slams Tax Hike

Gambling trade body VAN Kansspelen’s chairman Henry Meijdam voiced strong opposition to the tax increase. “This is the opposite of the social security that people say they support for citizens – including, I assume, completely legal, bona fide SME entrepreneurs,” Meijdam stated.

“Nor does it have anything to do with good or at least proper governance. However, it is completely socially irresponsible, because this inevitably leads to major problems and costs regarding safety and care.”

Meijdam’s criticism follows the release of a KPMG report last week, which argued that a 1% rise in gaming tax would lead to a 20% increase in losses for arcades.

He added, “To deal with a relatively small financial gap on paper, this would simply mean removing a supporting pillar of gambling policy. Apparently people were not aware of this, probably due to the multitude of topics and the time pressure. But this point in the intentions really needs to be repaired, otherwise the baby will be thrown out with the bathwater and criminals will smell opportunities in the illegal gambling circuit.”

Legislative Challenges Ahead

The news of the tax increase comes on the heels of the Dutch House of Representatives backing a motion last month to ban high-risk games such as slot machines. However, for this change to become law, it would need the approval of the minister of legal protection, Franc Weerwind, among other legislative hurdles.