All fourteen Holland Casinos opened as smoke-free zones, following the introduction of a national smoking ban on the hotel and leisure industry. Research suggests that smokers are likely to spend twice as much on gambling per person compared to non-smokers.
The correlation between smoking and gambling has long been evident. Several countries including the United Kingdom, Spain, Sweden, Australia and the United States have already imposed similar smoking bans, in most cases resulting in a double-digit percentage fall in gaming revenues.
For the gaming industry, the upside has been that many younger gamblers have chosen instead to play online from home. Following the introduction of the smoking ban in England, casino and bingo operator Rank reported a 6.7% decline in operating profit, in part due to the ban on smoking, with only its Blue Square online gaming business achieving growth. In Australia, Tabcorp reported a 10% fall in gaming revenues after the ban was introduced.
Dick Flink, CEO of Holland Casino, estimates that the smoking ban could cost the company as much as 15 million euros this year alone. The state-controlled company is also in the unenviable position of having no online gaming operation to serve those disaffected customers, having been refused permission by the state to launch its online gaming offering.
Holland Casino had worked for over a year on developing an online gaming site in cooperation with software provider CryptoLogic.