The Netherlands Unlikely to Enforce Stricter Gambling Loss Limits

Posted on: July 6, 2022, 11:38h. 

Last updated on: July 6, 2022, 06:18h.

While some countries, like the UK, are clamping down on how much consumers can spend gambling online, the Netherlands doesn’t want to overtighten the screws. Instead, Franc Weerwind, the country’s Minister for Legal Protection, believes a pragmatic approach to loss limits and controls is a smarter option.

Dutch Minister for Legal Protection Franc Weerwind
Franc Weerwind, the Dutch Minister for Legal Protection Franc Weerwind, speaks during a public appearance. He suggests a pragmatic approach to online gambling loss limits as the Netherlands discusses updated regulations. (Image: Dutch News)

Dutch parliamentarians recently held a discussion on online gambling and the introduction of new regulations and restrictions. Weerwind has previously stated that he’s in favor of controls, but doesn’t want to make a move, like far-reaching loss limits, that would lead to more offshore gambling.

In response to questions by MPs Michiel van Nispen and Mirjam Bikker, Weerwind reiterated that he is investigating what possibilities there are concerning overarching playing limits. He expects to conclude that study over the summer before deciding.

Finding the Right Balance

The fact that players can stack limits (create limits at different sites, as opposed to one limit across different platforms) is “undesirable” for Weerwind. For overarching limits, it must become clear whether it is technically possible. In addition, it is important to know the possibilities within the limits of the privacy legislation in the country.

The minister added that he wants to stick to the principle that was previously chosen when it comes to playing limits. This means letting players make their own choice about their limits. This, he asserted, offers a worthwhile solution to addiction prevention.

In the second study, I take into account that limits that are too strict can lead to evasive behavior of players, causing them to play with multiple providers at the same time, or even divert to illegal offers, which endangers the channelization,” said Weerwind.

Nevertheless, Weerwind is of the opinion that the limits can work better. He is, therefore, currently investigating two things. One is setting a maximum to the existing limits, and the other is setting limits across all providers.

Bikker and van Nispen attempted to use outdated data in support of their quest for tighter restrictions. They referenced a study indicating that 17% of those between 18 and 25 gamble online.

However, as Weerwind was quick to point out, that study was conducted before the legalization of online gambling. As such, it’s an irrelevant study that doesn’t reflect the current state of the market.

Advertising an Intrinsic Part of Gambling

The ministers also discussed the subject of gambling advertising. Bikker and van Nispen wanted to know what Weerwind thought of the high amount that operators have already spent, and he was ready with an answer.

Weerwind acknowledged that he wants to adequately protect vulnerable groups, and will therefore adjust the laws and regulations. This includes a ban on untargeted gambling advertising. In addition, there is now a ban on the use of role models in gambling advertisements.

However, he also stressed that gambling advertisements are necessary. He explained that new and existing providers must retain the possibility to draw attention to their legal offerings. Logically, this requires some degree of advertising.

The Netherlands’ Remote Gambling Act (RGA) allows for an open licensing system. When asked whether there will be a maximum number of providers in the Netherlands, Weerwind indicated that this is not the case.

Both van Nispen and Bikker are afraid that there will be more gambling advertisements as more providers receive their licenses. Nevertheless, there will be no maximum for the number of active online providers.

Weerwind also shot down the idea of postponing the entry of new providers until the new legislation is active. That is another irrelevant idea on the part of the other ministers since the RGA makes no such stipulation.