Gambling operators in the Netherlands face the prospect of an enforced “single customer view”, as officials also warn that a full advertising ban looms if the industry cannot improve its image.
The Dutch Ministry of Finance is seriously considering the creation of a so-called single customer view database, the government’s leading gambling official has said.
The system would allow operators to see the gambling habits of their customers across other providers and for the regulator to track the entire lifecycle of a player, with the goal of reducing gambling harm.
The term was coined by the UK Gambling Commission, where a pilot for what has since been officially named "GamProtect" is being run by trade group the Betting and Gaming Council.
Speaking at an annual event held by Dutch law firm Kalff Katz & Franssen (KKF) in Amsterdam on Friday (February 2), department head for gambling at the Ministry of Finance, Fedor Meerts, said the industry should expect action this year.
The Dutch government "is seriously looking at options when it comes to a single customer view in the Netherlands", he said.
Also speaking at the event, in one of his final speeches before retiring, the president of the Netherlands Gambling Authority (KSA), Rene Jansen, warned that the political and public view of gambling rests on a knife edge.
Jansen, who will leave the regulator in July, advised the industry on how to engage with the recently introduced ban on untargeted advertising in the Netherlands.
"Handling this too laconically or testing the limits ... could easily lead to a full ban on advertising," he said.
Political goodwill for the gambling industry is extremely hard to come by in the Netherlands and several of the parties that won seats in the recent Dutch elections have promised to roll back the legislation that opened the online market in 2021. Negotiations to form a new coalition government are ongoing.
"The legal market is not a given," Jansen warned. "The limits of entrepreneurship are determined by the actual and perceived actions [of gambling companies]."
KKF partner Justin Franssen said that the reputation of the gambling industry in the media was "the worst I have seen since 1997".
Jansen pointed to his numerous previous warnings, including before the market opened, that operators would face a backlash if they did not act responsibly. Those predictions were not heeded, he said, and operators should listen now or face an Armageddon scenario.
For 2024, Jansen said he expects the regulator to focus on licence-holders compliance with new duty of care regulations.
New rules that went into consultation on December 21 include affordability checks for anyone depositing more than €700 in one month, or €300 for young adults.
"We no longer wish to see players lose a lot of money in a short time," he said, adding that the regulator would begin more frequently quizzing operators on their treatment of specific players and how they have reacted to signs of potentially problematic gambling.
The industry should also expect fines for anti-money laundering breaches in 2024, Jansen said, hinting that several enforcement cases were already underway.
The Ministry of Finance also has plans to take action on gambling this year, with minister Franc Weerwind due to issue a letter on plans to set up a National Experience Centre for gambling addiction.
The facility will establish best practice for minimising gambling harm and will feed information to government, researchers, healthcare professionals and, “where appropriate”, gambling operators, said Meerts.