The Netherlands Gambling Authority (KSA) said it has found shortcomings in gambling licensees’ duty of care responsibility to prevent gambling addiction, so it will tighten its own codes, and recommends clarifying changes to legislation and Ministry of Justice regulations.
The regulator said a study of ten early licensees found “worrying signals” that many were falling short of proper care for players.
“With this research, we see where, outside of these signals, providers are not doing well,” said KSA chair Rene Jansen.
“Players must be able to assume that they can play safely. We see that rules need to be tightened, to further promote a safe environment for players.”
Licensees should intervene “more quickly and effectively”, in cases of potential gambling addiction, the authority wrote.
Dutch law provides for a duty of care, which means operators must prevent or limit gambling addiction as much as possible, the regulator said.
But its study, taken since October 2021 legalisation, suggests that licensees are unable to intervene effectively and adequately, due to flawed monitoring methodology and inability to monitor in real time, the KSA said.
Some look at changes in gambling behaviour, which means they may overlook players who bet or lose too much money right from the start, and problems are noticed too late, it said.
Others focus too narrowly on amount of bets and deposits, and miss warning signs such as excessive hours played, the KSA said.
The regulator said it is considering policy changes such as an obligation for real-time monitoring, additional rules on assessing problematic behaviour and mandatory blocking of problem players’ accounts until an intervention has occurred.
The Netherlands Online Gambling Association (NOGA) said it supported the recommendations as potentially working to meet its previous concerns that duty of care obligations are “too vague and based on too open a standard”.
“It is important that online gamblers can be confident that they will receive the same basic protection from licensed providers everywhere and that they will be protected from risks associated with online gambling," the trade group said.
In a separate development, a Dutch right-leaning party, BoerBurgerBeweging (BBB), has posted a draft party platform that calls for major national lotteries to be limited to the government-owned Dutch Lottery, the parent of the National Lottery.
The abolition of other large lotteries would help control gambling addiction and benefit taxpayers, according to the draft platform.
The BBB, or Farmer-Citizen Movement, had shock successes this year in provincial elections with its policies of opposing government proposals to reduce nitrogen emissions by buying out and shutting farms.
Its members meet on September 23 to finalise its party programmes.
A spokesperson for the Dutch Postcode Lottery said the postcode lottery and the Friends Lottery are both non-profit organisations that collectively contribute €500m to hundreds of society, cultural and sports organisations.
“The proposal by the BoerBurgerBeweging would have disastrous consequences for the civil society sector in the Netherlands,” said spokesperson Femke de Veer.
“Furthermore, lotteries have been proven to be low risk. If, as stated in the programme, the underlying intention is indeed to gain more control over gambling problems, then the focus in the plans should be on [online] gambling providers that are genuinely addictive or risky,” she said.