Dutch Gamblers Face Possibility of Mandatory Affordability Checks

Posted on: December 22, 2023, 06:51h. 

Last updated on: December 22, 2023, 10:53h.

In June of last year, the Netherlands’ Minister for Legal Protection, Franc Weerwind, stated that the country wasn’t likely to entertain overly strict online gambling measures. He’s since changed his point of view, with restrictive affordability checks now on the table.

 Netherlands flag
The Netherlands flag flying on a pole. The country is considering the implementation of affordability checks in certain situations. (Image: Pinterest)

The Dutch Gaming Authority (KSA, from its Dutch name) has proposed new measures to curb gambling addiction. Among these is a requirement for online gaming sites to ask for proof of income for deposits.

Weerwind voiced his support in a response to the regulator’s initiatives. He also proposed that players be automatically logged out if they exceed their player or time limit.

How They Got Here

The current version of the Remote Gambling Act (KOA, for its Dutch acronym) is currently under review, a stipulation of its approval almost three years ago. The review will be delivered next October, examining the effectiveness and effects of the legislation and the online gambling market.

Leading up to that, the KSA submitted its preliminary findings on December 13. This, in turn, led to Weerwind’s response on Thursday.

The affordability check would be triggered when someone reaches a threshold of €700 (US$770) in deposits in a single month. The government could implement lower limits for gamblers and bettors between 18 and 24 years old.

In addition, the KSA wants to impose personal contact requirements for everyone wishing to raise their monthly limits by €350 (US$385) or more. This would prevent operators from offering a configuration setting in their apps or online platforms that would allow users to change their limits.

This could take the form of a phone call, chat, or email. The aim is to provide gamblers with an opportunity to discuss their gambling habits with a qualified professional and get help if they need it.

Players would also be automatically logged out if they exceeded their player or time limit. This is a form of harm reduction that can help to prevent people from gambling beyond their means.

The measures are aimed at preventing people from becoming addicted to gambling, according to the KSA. In September, the regulator concluded that gambling companies haven’t been doing enough to step in when players became addicted. Therefore, it’s ready to crack down on their operations.

What’s Next

To formulate the new policy recommendations, the government convened a series of stakeholder-driven discussions. It talked to policymakers, scientists, gamblers, representatives of gambling companies, and regulatory bodies like the KSA.

There are some drawbacks to the research methodologies, however, which Weerwind indirectly, and likely unintentionally, pointed out. One is the anonymous nature of the Central Register for the Exclusion of Gambling (Cruks, for its Dutch acronym).

That anonymity makes it virtually impossible to correlate the reason someone registers with Cruks with the history behind their gambling patterns. This can hinder efforts to understand the true impact of gambling.

Legislators and regulators need to gain a deeper understanding of the role of gambling providers, the consequences of risky gambling, and the effectiveness of interventions. Only a comprehensive study involving high-risk gamblers and gambling addicts can achieve this, but it hasn’t been carried out.

The KSA’s proposed measures aren’t yet definitive. In the case of the minister’s proposal, it would take the form of a ministerial rule that could be enforced by next fall. Gambling companies and experts can reply to the new rules from the gambling authority until April 1, 2024.