A Netherlands consumer group claims online casino companies break Dutch consumer law and encourage excessive gambling by misleading players about bonus terms and conditions and unfairly concealing costs.
One licensee gives €50 matching bonuses with deposit, but winnings can only be withdrawn after a player has wagered the bonus 50 times — that is, after they have wagered €1,000, according to the Consumers’ Association (Consumentenbond).
Holland Casino and Netherlands Lottery’s TOTO offer default deposit amounts of €50, “much higher than the minimum deposit of €10” and both chase players with offers, even when the gambler has indicated they do not want to receive promotions, the group said.
The six companies it examined are not transparent about terms and conditions about bonuses, advertise games “that are not free at all” and conceal costs of game options, the association said.
“Consumers are misled and encouraged to gamble excessively,” said director Sandra Molenaar. “That is completely irresponsible. And the fact that two state-owned companies are also guilty of this is too insane for words.”
But one of two state-owned companies singled out as the “biggest culprits”, Holland Casino, responded robustly, saying it was “surprised” by the investigation as it has not seen the full report, and claimed that some of the group’s points had “limited substantiation”.
“Holland Casino Online does not send commercial information to anyone without permission from the recipient. Our promotions are clear,” the company said in a statement.
“Conditions have been compiled with care, are clearly stated and have been drawn up from the interest or benefit of the player,” the company said. “If we send emails with the proposition 'receive free spins', the player will actually receive free spins after logging in.”
The company said it would immediately fix one complaint, that the minimum suggested deposit amount was €50 — it will now make €20 the lowest suggestion. Players can also set any deposit level they like, it said.
TOTO said it “complies with the law with its bonus policy and it therefore does not recognise the 'deception' that the Consumers' Association talks about”.
Consumers’ Association spokesman Gerard Spierenburg said that the full report was not yet public.
But on free spins, he said that Holland Casino sends out emails promising free spins, “but the fine print shows that there are conditions to this reward, which negate the free nature — a player must first gamble €20 on specific games”.
The 70 year-old consumer group examined websites by the six largest Dutch online casino licensees — bet365, Entain’s Betcity, Holland Casino, Jacks, Kindred’s Unibet and Toto.
A spokesperson for the Netherlands Gambling Authority said it has not been involved with the consumer group’s investigation.
“We are interested to hear more from them and will look into their findings,” the spokesperson said.
In 2018, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority, working with the Gambling Commission, pressured William Hill, Ladbrokes and TitanBet to change their bonus promotions and policies on withdrawal of funds because the regulator found them misleading.