There has been an angry reaction from part of the Netherlands gambling sector to the proposals of the Netherlands government relating to reopening the industry.
Gaming arcades in the country are said to be furious with the prime minister Mark Rutte, who this week announced that there would be an easing of the lockdown, but that arcades would have to stay shut, until the start of September.
Dutch arcade operators’ anger is focused on the fact that although restaurants, cinemas and bars are being allowed to open again from the start of June, albeit with a strict 1.5 metre social distancing rule, arcades will have to remain closed. Many in the industry have pointed out that it is common for arcades to have liquor licenses, yet no exception has been made for the sector.
Speaking about the controversy, the CEO of Novomatic Netherlands, Paul Strikers, said that the announcement was a surprise and a disappointment and that it was hard to understand:
“We are now discussing with our colleagues in other companies and with the trade association, the VAN, how we can start lobbying in order to change this decision and be permitted to open the arcades sooner.”
Under the terms of the lockdown easing, from June 1, restaurants and bars can open for up to 30 people, and will be able to open for up to 100 people a month later. That will mean that gaming machines in those venues can be used. But those rules do not apply to gaming arcades.
The decision of the Dutch government have been mirrored in neighbouring country Denmark, where shops, restaurants and other retail premises will be allowed to open from Monday.
According to the Netherlands government, lockdown restrictions will be eased slowly over the next four months, but the government have also said that these could be further delayed or reversed if there is a significant upsurge in cases of coronavirus.