Dutch Parliament Backs Tough Deposit Limits

February 14, 2024
The Dutch parliament has approved motions to turn new deposit setting rules into hard cross-operator limits and to sharpen enforcement action.

The Dutch parliament has approved motions to turn new deposit setting rules into hard cross-operator limits and to sharpen enforcement action.

Parliamentary motions submitted by two of the Dutch gambling industry’s most ardent political opponents were approved on Tuesday (February 13) as part of a Justice and Security Budget debate.

Mirjam Bikker of the Christian Union party called for upcoming rules on deposit limits to be significantly toughened.

The Dutch government has already committed to new regulations for deposit limits, after the Netherlands Gambling Authority expressed concerns that existing requirements, which require players to be prompted to set a limit, were being flouted. Officials said operators were often setting default limits too high, for example.

Under the new rules, players will need to undergo affordability checks if they set a limit higher than €700 a month, or €300 a month if they are 23-years-old or younger. Operators will also need to warn players of the risks of setting higher limits if they select a cap of €350 or higher a month, or €150 for young adults.

Bikker’s motion instead calls for a hard deposit limit to be established that cannot be breached or amended by players and for it to apply across all operators.

“A deposit limit and a loss limit only have an effect if they are overarching and therefore a gambler cannot deposit or lose up to the maximum again at every online casino,” the motion says.

It “calls on the government to implement an overall limit for deposits and losses at online casinos before the summer without the possibility of increasing it”.

“I find it unacceptable that as a gambler you can lose your playing limit and deposit again with every provider. You can increase that amount again with a phone call to the gambling company,” Bikker said.

“We have to stop that. That is why I am putting forward a motion for one overarching playing limit. My appeal to the minister is to start making that change today.”

A representative for the industry questioned the feasibility of the proposals.

“Although we are sure the motion was introduced with only the best intentions, we fear that if implemented as suggested, it may have adverse effects on consumer protection,” said Peter-Paul De Goeij, managing director of trade group NOGA.

“It drives consumers away from the licensed operators to illegal websites where consumer protection is completely absent and [often] criminals prey on unknowing customers.

“Apart from the negative effects on channelisation it also seems technically impossible and not legally feasible to impose this on such short notice without changing the law. It may well require a formal act of parliament,” he said.

The Dutch government is not bound by law to act in accordance with approved motions, but traditionally strongly considers their requests. The recently implemented ban on untargeted advertising began life as a motion proposed by Bikker and Socialist Party politician Michiel van Nispen.

Van Nispen had a motion of his own approved on Tuesday, calling for bigger fines and licence revocations for misbehaving gambling operators.

It claimed that there are “major flaws” in current gambling policy and that “a hefty fine must follow an initial warning and that licences must also be withdrawn as soon as gambling providers fail to comply with the duty of care and addiction prevention policy”.

The motion calls on the government to urgently consult with the regulator how the latter can beef up its enforcement.

A third motion calling for a full gambling advertising ban was defeated.

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