Betting in Amsterdam

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Although Amsterdam was not the site of the first Dutch casino (that honour fell to the city of Zandvoort in 1974), the Netherlands’ capital and largest city (metro pop. 2.2 million) has exerted its leadership in more recent years to offer a greater number of gambling opportunities than any other municipality in the Kingdom. And since all forms of gambling are strictly monopolized by the state, the city’s position as the #1 place to play in Holland is unlikely to change any time soon.

Visitors arriving at Amsterdam’s Schiphol International Airport are greeted by a branch of Holland Casino even before they pick up their baggage. The casino’s strategic positioning prior to any customs or immigration checkpoints means that even passengers making connections through Schiphol en route to other destinations have the opportunity to stay and play for a while as they idle in transit.

Holland Casino, of course is the Dutch monopoly that directly operates the state lottery and more than a dozen casinos around the country. It also oversees so-called “fair play centers,” which are casinos under sub-license. The Schiphol Airport branch is something of a showcase, open daily from 6:30am to 7:30pm and offering a limited gaming area with 88 gaming machines and tables only for Blackjack and Roulette.

The monopoly’s much larger main branch, Holland Casino Amsterdam, is located near the heart of the city at Max Euweplein 62. With a gaming space covering 92,664 square feet, the facility features some 650 gaming machines and 55 tables for poker and casino table games, including Roulette, Blackjack, Punto Banco, Sic Bo and Caribbean Stud. The property has two full-service restaurants and is open daily from 1:30pm to 3am, but dark on 31 December. Players must be at least 18 years of age and show a valid ID or passport; an entrance fee of NLG7.5 is charged, too.

Located on the street called Reguliersbreestraat, just off Rembrandtplein, the main square in central Amsterdam, is Holland Casino’s local Fair Play Center. It has some 30 gaming machines available six days a week, Monday through Saturday from 10am till midnight—but it is not alone. In fact, Reguliersbreestraat could be considered Amsterdam’s mini-version of the Las Vegas Strip—the gathering point for most of its casino activities.

Just a few doors down from the Fair Play Center is the Merkur Casino Amsterdam, open the same hours plus from 1pm till midnight on Sundays. Merkur Gaming, of course, is one of Europe’s leading suppliers of video lottery terminals, AWP and casino machines. This small licensed venue is one of five footholds established in Holland ahead of potential loosening of the government’s grip on gaming.

Joining Merkur on Reguliersbreestraat is another licensed casino operator interested in seeing a more open and competitive environment for gambling activities in the Netherlands. In 2007, the JVH Gaming & Entertainment Group set up one of its own venues under the brand name “Flash Casino’s,” offering an informal atmosphere where guests can find various commercial games of chance, including roulette, poker and well-known fruit machines. A second JVH-owned establishment is “Jack’s Casino,” not far from the Holland Casino Amsterdam.

Yet another gaming establishment can be found at the very end of Reguliersbreestraat and it has the unapologetic name “Las Vegas Casino - Amsterdam.” It is the lead venue for a group of nine Las Vegas named gambling halls throughout the Netherlands, offering the public bingo, bookmaking for horse races, roulette and gaming machines from 10am till midnight on Monday through Saturday and from 1pm till midnight on Sunday.

Locals advise visitors to steer clear of the numerous “slot machine casinos” that dot Amsterdam’s infamous Red Light District and other less savory sections of the city. Although they do offer gaming opportunities under names like “Macau Amusement Palace” or “Lucky Play,” the odds of winning anything substantial are poor at best.

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