Holland Casino, the Dutch state-owned gambling company, has agreed a new multi-year deal to become the 'responsible betting partner' of Dutch professional soccer.

The deal has been agreed with the Dutch soccer’s top-flight Eredivisie, the second-tier Eerste Divisie (known for sponsorship reasons as the Keuken Kampioen Divisie) and Disney-owned US sports broadcaster ESPN, which broadcasts live games from the two leagues.

Holland Casino intends for the deal – an investment in the most popular sport in the Netherlands – to help it establish a strong presence in the Dutch gambling market immediately as it opens up from 1 October.

The Dutch gambling market has until now operated under laws dating back to 1964, with Holland Casino the only company licensed to operate.

Online gambling falls out of scope – and is therefore illegal – due to the internet not having existed when the laws were introduced.

However, while some strict regulations will remain, the country’s new Remote Gambling Act will allow licensed private operators to provide online gambling services to consumers, and is expected to create one of the biggest online gambling markets in Europe.

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Holland Casino says education about “safe and responsible participation in online games of chance” and preventative measures for problem gambling are central to its sponsorship of Dutch professional soccer.

For its part, ESPN will provide visibility of Holland Casino as a responsible betting partner of Dutch soccer and work with it to develop relevant content for soccer fans.

Erwin van Lambaart, chief executive of Holland Casino, said: "The value of the investment in Dutch soccer is really great for all parties. It gives Holland Casino an enormous reach to interest a wide audience in attractive gambling games with an exciting new online dimension where safe and responsible gaming always comes first.

“By setting the bar high, we want to set an example in the Netherlands and the rest of Europe, in our casinos and starting on 1 October in our online offer as well. This reliability is of great importance to consumers. The value of the investment is also great because it really supports all professional soccer clubs spread throughout the Netherlands."

He continued: "This partnership with Dutch football is going to help us get new impetus in a futureproof way in the coming years. The plan is sound, realistic and healthy. We are convinced that this will pay off on several fronts.

“On the one hand, the COVID-19 crisis has stressed that a digital channel is essential for the robustness of Holland Casino. It makes our company more futureproof. On the other hand, we have very deliberately chosen to integrate the right balance between appeal and responsible play into the entire collaboration."

Marc Boele, director of the Coöperatie Eerste Divisie, added: "Holland Casino, the Eredivisie and the Keuken Kampioen Divisie have always been committed to a safe and responsible gaming offer that fully safeguards the integrity of the sport. That makes this cooperation as logical as it is desirable. We look forward to working together in the coming years, with new game concepts that will add value to the fans’ experience of the game."