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ACM clears merger between two Dutch games of chance

The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has cleared the merger between Stichting Exploitatie Nederlandse Staatsloterij (SENS) and Stichting Nationale Sporttotalisator (SNS). Chris Fonteijn, Chairman of the Board of ACM, explains: “It turns out that SENS and SNS hardly compete with one another, which is largely due to the strict regulation of games of chance. Our investigation has revealed that the merger would have a limited effect on the market.”

After the merger, the market for lotteries and lottos will have two major competitors. One is the combination SENS/SNS, which owns the National Lottery (in Dutch: Staatsloterij), the Millions Game (Miljoenenspel), the Lotto Game (Lottospel), Eurojackpot, and Scratch Tickets (Krasloten). Its main rival will be Nationale Goede Doelen Loterijen N.V. (GDL). GDL offers the Postal Code Lottery (Postcodeloterij), the Bank-Giro Lottery (BankGiroLoterij), and the Friends Lottery (Vriendenloterij). These two competitors will each have approximately half of the market for lotteries and lottos.

The abovementioned games of chance each have their own loyal customer base. ACM has concluded that consumers rarely switch games of chance.

Sufficient competition if online gambling is legalized

Chances are that the online gambling market will be legalized in the Netherlands In 2017. ACM therefore also assessed what the competitive position of the combination SENS/SNS would be in that new environment. In any case, such a market will have powerful international competitors. Mr. Fonteijn continues: ‘GDL, too, can go head to head with the combination SENS/SNS. So there are sufficient competitors, both domestically and internationally. At this point, the likelihood of SENS/SNS gaining a dominant position as a result of the merger is rather slim in our view.’

Strict regulations regarding games of chance

The Netherlands has strict regulations regarding games of chance. The Dutch central government issues individual licenses to each lottery. As a result, each license holder has its own range of games and target audience. The regulations are designed to prevent gambling addiction among consumers, among other objectives. Therefore, all rules that are currently in place play a role in keeping the level of competition between the various lotteries low.