Holland Casinos Shutters All Venues

Holland Casinos, the primary state-owned casino operator in the Netherlands, has been forced to shut all of its land-based operations until at least January 2021. The move follows the Netherlands’ tightening of restrictions over the holiday period due to a spike in coronavirus (Covid-19) cases. A prior lockdown in November failed to significantly lower the spread of the virus within the small European nation.

A picturesque embankment in the Dutch capital Amsterdam.

Following surges in cases of coronavirus (Covid-19), the Netherlands has entered yet another national lockdown, forcing state-owned operator Holland Casinos to once again shutter all of its land-based casino locations. ©millionairemob/Pixabay

Strict Lockdown Follows Failure of Lighter Lockdown in Curbing Spread of Virus

The Dutch prime minister, Mark Rutte, said non-essential shops and businesses, gyms, museums, cinemas and theatres would close for five weeks. The measures are in response to the Netherlands’ seven-day new case average rising by more than 40% in a week. The announcement was presented to the country in a rare television appearance by the prime minister. 

While bars and restaurants in the Netherlands have been closed since mid-October, this partial lockdown failed to produce adequate results in lowering the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19). 

A similar situation can be observed in neighboring Germany, as well as the Czech Republic — both of whom have elected to enter stricter lockdowns over the holiday period following lighter lockdowns in November.

With Italy now also strongly considering a hard lockdown, the uneasy situation across much of central Europe as the busy holiday season approaches was likely a key factor in influencing Netherlands’ bold decision. 

As part of the Netherlands’ new lockdown policies, people have been encouraged to stay at home as much as possible. Only a maximum of two guests a day will be permitted, with an exemption in place for the period between 24th and 26th December, when the limit will be raised to three people (excluding children under 13). 

All schools have been closed as of Wednesday, December 16th, and the current measures are expected to last until 19th January, at the very least.

Pandemic Has Forced Holland Casinos to Shutter Operations Three Times in 2020

As for many casino operators in Europe and across the world, 2020 has indeed been a challenging year for Holland Casinos. The most recent lockdown measures in advance of the holiday period mark the third time this year the state-owned operator has been forced to shut all its land-based offerings. 

Holland Casinos’ lockdown saga began in mid-March 2020, following the first outbreak of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic across Europe. It was at this point when they were first required to close their doors in efforts to combat the spread of the virus.

However, the Dutch government’s decision to keep casino doors shuttered until the 1st September quickly incited sharp criticism from Holland Casino, as well as national gambling industry trade association VAN Kansspelen. 

The duo described the excessively long closure period as “irresponsible,” basing their argument on the fact that it negatively impacts business and the more than 8,000 people employed in this sector. 

Additionally, with players facing few alternative choices due to the closure of legitimate land-based casinos, the two organizations warned that such a long shutdown could cause a spike in illegal online gambling activity. 

The Netherlands’ gambling regulator Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) even went onto note in May 2020 how online bingo game offerings did indeed increase during this period of closure — a vertical that is typically only permitted to be operated with a valid license, due to the fact that players can win prizes based on pure luck. 

Holland Casino and VAN Kansspelen therefore called on the Dutch government to permit casinos and arcades to reopen with strict new hygiene and sanitary measures implemented to protect both staff and customers.

Their efforts proved successful, as negotiations between the government and two negotiations resulted in the reopening of all casinos, in accordance with hygiene rules, being pushed up to July 1st, 2020.

The victory was short lived, however, as all casinos became subject to a mandatory midnight curfew starting from September, once again in response to a rise in coronavirus (Covid-19) cases. As cases continued to rise, the Netherlands entered a second national lockdown period, albeit light, between the 4th and 18th November. This naturally meant that Holland Casinos had to shut down all operations for the second time in 2020.

Holland Casinos Took Severe Financial Hit Due to Covid-19

As is perhaps unsurprising, state-owned gambling operator Holland Casinos suffered severe financial losses in the first half of 2020, almost exclusively due to the almost five month-long shutdown of all its physical casino locations in the Netherlands.

The organization’s turnover for the first half of the year fell by a whopping 58.7%, down to €146.3 million, with net loss for the period amounting to a significant €28.3 million, compared to a €32.5 million profit in 2019.

Prior to the lockdowns, business had been promising for the Dutch state-owned operator, with turnover up 7% in the period up to and including 12th March, 2020. Furthermore, both the number of visits and the average spend per visit were also up, by 3.9% and 3.1% respectively, during this period.

Yet any major gain was wiped out thanks to a particularly lengthy lockdown period, which stretched from 13th March until 1st July. Beyond this point, Holland Casino’s venues could only operate in line with a number of additional safety regulations, namely a 1.5-meter social distancing requirement, as well as the number of guests being set to  30% of total capacity.

To further add to Holland Casino’s 2020 woes, the operator could not rely on online gambling to offset their losses from the closure of physical locations. 

With no legal online gambling currently legislated in the Netherlands, thanks to delays to the planned launch of regulated igaming, the operator’s revenue streams were significantly more limited this year — a clear disadvantage for the organization when compared to their European peers.

Have you enjoyed this article? Then share it with your friends.
Share on Pinterest
A locked gate or entrance, bound shut with a chain secured with a strong padlock.

Similar Posts