Dutch Regulator To See If Operators Walk The Walk

June 22, 2022
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The Dutch regulator will begin checking that operators are really putting their responsible gambling policies into practice, as it starts a new wave of supervision.

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The Dutch regulator will begin checking that operators are really putting their responsible gambling policies into practice, as it starts a new wave of supervision.

Rene Jansen, the chairman of the Netherlands Gambling Authority (KSA), warned the assembled industry in Utrecht on Monday (June 20) that the regulator was about to embark on a new phase of oversight to improve what he sees as failings by operators to meet their duty of care.

The senior official was speaking at the annual Gaming in Holland conference.

In addition to the pernicious subject of advertising, examples of gamblers being allowed to lose large sums without any intervention from operators have made headlines in the Netherlands.

Dutch licence holders must ask players to set a deposit limit, but Jansen said that some were not taking the requirement seriously enough.

“There have been instances of playing limits that made it possible to lose up to €100,000 and gamble 24/7. No-one can argue with a straight face that playing limits such as those are seriously restricting and offer sufficient protection,” he said.

“That is why we will spend the next period investigating explicitly how our online gambling licence holders are putting the main facets of their duty of care into practice.

“Earlier, we examined the operators’ policy plans for addiction prevention. In the coming period, we will be shifting our focus to the practical implementation of those plans,” he said.

Allowing high limits without checks is one example that would see the KSA take immediate action against an operator, but the regulator said it would generally “conduct thorough research into the interpretation of the duty of care and assess whether operators comply with their duty of care”.

Pressure is also set to mount on gambling advertising in the Netherlands. A ban on the use of “role models” will come into force in July and the Dutch parliament has compelled the government to consider additional restrictions.

Fedor Meerts, the head of gambling policy at the Ministry of Justice and Security, confirmed at Gaming in Holland that his department was preparing a raft of new restrictions.

New rules are likely to ban “un-targeted” ads, although Meerts said the ministry was still ironing out the specifics.

The broadest understanding of “untargeted” could see a prohibition extend to all forms of broadcast adverts and sports sponsorship.

The government’s proposals will be issued later this year, but Meerts said the political process means new rules will not come into effect until the start of 2023 at the earliest.

In the meantime, he told the industry “it is crucial to show that the things we’re developing now may not be necessary”.

Speaking on the same panel, Peter-Paul de Goeij, the head of online trade group NOGA, said it was a “small win” that targeted ads would likely still be allowed, but lamented the prospect of otherwise sweeping restrictions.

He also pointed the finger at the government for creating an environment where fierce marketing competition was inevitable when the online market opened in October 2021.

In his speech, Jansen also made ominous reference to the prospect of enforcing stricter deposit limits through regulation.

He said that the KSA had begun a study of how other nations approached limit-setting, citing Austria, Germany and Norway as “countries [that] have made different choices”.

“These examples serve to illustrate that other avenues are open to the legislator. I would dare to predict that the government will intervene if it turns out that operators in the Netherlands do not take their responsibility seriously enough lightning fast,” he said.

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