Dutch Government Adviser Backs Central Loss Limit Database

September 29, 2023
An addictions advisor to the Dutch government has recommended the Netherlands consider a central database to enforce mandatory loss limits across the entire gambling market.

UPDATE 9:50am: A response from the Netherlands Gambling Authority has been added below.

An addictions advisor to the Dutch government has recommended the Netherlands consider a central database to enforce mandatory loss limits across the entire gambling market.

The report Gambling with Health, produced by the National Rapporteur on Addiction, also recommends that operators that fail in their “duty of care” for the gambler be held responsible for those who become addicted.  

Earlier this month, the Netherlands Gambling Authority (KSA) said many licensees were failing in their duty of care responsibilities, and it promised to tighten its codes and recommend changes to government.

The rapporteur, Radboud University professor Arnt Schellekens, concluded that online gambling, legalised two years ago, "unnecessarily causes many people to get into problems, ranging from debt to depression and suicidality".

On loss limits, Schellekens said a variable limit would be complicated by the need to submit “proof of solvency”.

But “a fixed loss limit for everyone is easier to implement and communicate more clearly,” the rapporteur wrote.

“For wealthy players, this may mean that they find the limit for online gambling too low, but here the protection of vulnerable groups takes precedence over the interests of the wealthy individual (who can also get into trouble due to problematic gambling).”

The rapporteur, who advises the ministry of health, wellbeing and sports, delivered the report to parliament on Thursday (September 28).

An earlier proposal for such a database in the Netherlands had been dismissed, but a similar proposal is in development in Germany.

In the Netherlands, players are currently required to nominate deposit, time and spending limits before play, and mandatory loss limits with individual operators are under consideration.  

But the rapporteur recommends imposing mandatory loss limits across all operators, not just one.

“This is a technical challenge, but the example in Germany shows this is feasible”, the report said, adding that Spain was considering such a proposal.

Germany’s LUGAS monitoring system seeks to enforce €1,000 ($1,060) deposit limits across all operators, as well as for those seeking to play on two websites at once.

Last October, Dutch legal protection minister Franc Weerwind said “overarching” limits were not feasible, for privacy and technical reasons.

The rapporteur also recommended tightening advertising and marketing restrictions, even though a ban on “untargeted” advertising such as TV and radio took effect on July 1.

The ban on tobacco advertising “can serve as an example”, Schellekens said.

The Netherlands Online Gambling Association said only that the report is “comprehensive”, and that it will “carefully study the report and provide a response”.

A spokesperson for the Dutch Gambling Authority (KSA) said its chair, René Jansen previously said “he thinks the duty of care should be expanded and that the (ministry of legal protection) has to impose player limits. We know the ministry is looking at these limits right now and what kind of limits that would be. We are awaiting the ministry’s proposal, which is said to come out in November.”

Speaking on whether the KSA can enforce the duty of care: “We can indeed punish licensees if they don’t uphold their duty of care. As we speak, we are investigating licensees that might already have crossed the line. If we conclude they did, there will be consequences. As this is an ongoing investigation, I can’t go into that further”.

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