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Netherlands To Privatize Casinos Amid Highly Controversial Austerity Push In Europe

Online Gaming To Be Regulated As Well In Country Of 16.7 Million

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The Netherlands plans to “mondernise” its gambling policy by dumping its 14 casinos into private hands, the country’s recently elected politicians announced last month.

“Providing gambling services is not one of the government’s core tasks and therefore Holland Casino will be sold,” the government said in its coalition agreement forged in late October.

Holland Casino, officially the “National Foundation for the Exploitation of Casino Games in the Netherlands,” currently sends its profits to the Dutch treasury. According to Wednesday reporting from Reuters, gambling revenues have been declining at the state-owned casinos.

Online casino games will also be legalized and regulated under the plan, in an effort to “reduce the proliferation of illegal gambling,” the government said. Talks of opening up the country to foreign online gambling firms have been ongoing for awhile now.

The Netherlands is in a financial “crisis,” the government said, and it wants to solve its problems through a framework that “causes minimum hindrance” to business.

However, the overall economic plan, dubbed “Building Bridges” despite $20.7 billion in cuts, will come at a high cost and could be painful for most.

The Wall Street Journal reported in late October:

“The measures included big spending cuts in social security, raising the retirement age and scrapping subsidies in health care. In addition, the government targets overhauls in the housing, health care and labor markets. Proposed measures include a reduction of a tax deduction of interest on mortgages. Unemployment benefits will be cut, while health-care subsidies scrapped and insurance premiums linked to personal income.”

The Netherlands is part of the European community that has been pushing austerity measures, despite intense public backlash. Earlier this month, hundreds of thousands of protestors took to the streets all around the continent to oppose the ideology. The Netherlands had mild demonstrations when compared to others, the Associated Press reported.

Follow Brian Pempus on Twitter — @brianpempus