In the latest edition of Around the World in 80 Slots, we find ourselves in one of the flattest countries in the world, walking through fields of tulips as we embrace the charm of the Netherlands.
Aside from the beauty of the criss-cross canals, the Netherlands’ igaming space recently achieved a milestone as the Dutch regulated market finally opened for business on October 1, an opening which has been a long time in the running.
Joining us on a tandem-ride, Annemarie Reedik, senior account manager at Blueprint Gaming, who quoted the classic saying “good things come to those who wait” when asked if the wait will be worth it for the gambling industry.
“Yes, we’ve had to be patient for the regulatory framework to come to fruition, but an online regulated market in the Netherlands offers huge potential for the industry and the country itself,” explained Reedik.
“In recent weeks, we have seen a tremendous amount of noise from operators and suppliers about the growth prospects of the Netherlands. That alone demonstrates how seriously Europe views the newly-regulated Dutch market as an important focus area over the coming months.
“As we’ve seen across Europe, regulation delivers safer gaming experiences and that is a top priority for Blueprint Gaming.
“Secondly, establishing a legalised online market in a region that has a strong casino heritage provides us with an opportunity to connect and engage with a larger audience. Since the market has gone live, early engagement levels have exceeded expectations and the signs are very promising.”
Despite the legalised online Dutch market finally arriving, Reedik expressed her “surprise” that it only arrived in 2021, especially when considering other major European regions which neighbour the Netherlands, some of which have become established and mature.
But the delay in legalisation could be more of a positive for the country than a negative, Reedik noted: “It does mean the country has adopted a far stricter regulatory framework in line with how the global industry is heading, with a particular emphasis on player protection.
“Other than that, we see a lot of similarities between the Netherlands and other European territories, in particular the UK. Given the strong presence we have in our home market, you can understand why we have high expectations for Holland.”
Our journey through the Netherlands saw us pass various landmarks, such as the Van Gough Museum, the Canals of Amsterdam and a personal favourite of mine – the Gouda Cheese Market!
As we passed these tremendous locations, it turned our attention to an already established market within the country which comes in the form of slots. Since the opening of the market, the industry has seen an influx of slot suppliers gain access to the newly-legalised country and we pressed Reedik on what will inspire the digital space.
“Land-based inspired content will be incredibly important,” emphasised Reedik. “As with all new online market launches, acquisition of players is the number one priority for operators and the availability of content that is already familiar with them is essential.
“Given Blueprint’s roots within the land-based environment, we believe our content will be well suited to local players. Naturally, a lot of our games include mechanics that originated from land-based machines and players in Holland will quickly discover this when playing our games.
“Accessing content through trusted brands will be an important factor too. The likes of Nederlandse Loterij and Holland Casino are well-known entities across the region and so players will naturally navigate towards these sites as they have an existing affinity.”
Being an early supporter of the Dutch market, Blueprint Gaming this week detailed its collaboration with the Nederlandse Loterij, which saw a selection of its games become available to the group’s sports betting and igaming brand.
Among the games going live are branded titles such as The Goonies, as well as Blueprint’s range of Megaways offerings. Toto is to also deploy the supplier’s progressive jackpot system, Jackpot King.
Focusing on the company, we quizzed Reedik on how Blueprint’s titles will be appealing to local players with the senior account manager revealing that “behind the scenes” the supplier “worked hard to ensure” its titles were certified, which resulted in its content going live on day one of the market opening.
She added: “We’re proud to have secured partnerships with both Holland Casino and Nederlandse Loterij’s new online brand Toto Casino, meaning our content is live with two of the most respected brands in the region.
“We believe Dutch players hold similar preferences to slot games to our key UK demographic, which bodes well for our performance in the Netherlands. The mix of feature-rich games and mechanics inspired by the land-based environment is likely to resonate with the Dutch audience.
“Furthermore, we’ll be deploying our market-leading jackpot progressive system Jackpot King in the country, which we firmly believe will prove very popular with players.”
As the sun sets on our time in the Netherlands, it is safe to say that this is only the beginning for the legalised Dutch market. Casting our eyes into the future, we asked what the long term potential for the market can be and if it can become a leading European igaming market. An idea which Reedik believes is possible.
She concluded: “The strong land-based heritage suggests there will be an appetite for online gaming among local players. The digitalisation of the casino industry has accelerated rapidly since the pandemic, with the burgeoning US market a clear example of how igaming content is very much in demand at present. This indicates the Netherlands could follow in a similar pattern, albeit on a smaller scale.
“It remains to be seen as to how big the market can grow in the future, particularly given the tight marketing restrictions that are put in place. Having said that, it’s clear that most, if not all European markets are heading in a similar direction.
“Ultimately, it’s down to the quality of content that will drive growth, something which Blueprint holds in abundance.”