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Dutch gambling body warns “stricter measures may be counterproductive”

The Netherlands Online Gambling Association has published new research into consumer sentiments.

The Netherlands.- The Netherlands Online Gambling Association (NOGA) has warned the country’s parliament of the risks of further restrictions on the industry. Publishing new research by IPSOS, it noted that “strict measures may be counterproductive”, potentially harming channelisation to the legal market.

The fourth Dutch Online Gambling Barometer study found that consumers would be willing to turn to unlicensed operators if faced with many restrictions. Of particular concern, the study found that “nearly half of at-risk gamblers are unwilling to show proof of income to gamble online.”

NOGA argues that the main objective of Dutch gambling legislation should be to reduce the use of unlicensed providers. For now, the country is easily surpassing the legislative goal of an 80 per cent channelisation since 95 per cent of consumers choose licensed online gambling providers. 

However, NOG director, Peter-Paul de Goeij, noted that while this is a good percentage, “it also means that around 90,000 Dutch people still gamble at illegal casinos. As many as all residents of Heerlen or Hengelo”.

NOGA also stresses that it’s important to understand why these 90,000 players still choose to use illegal sites. De Goeij added that stricter legislation may drive more at-risk players, who are more likely to lie about their gambling behaviour, to such providers. 

However, the Barometer also noted that one reason for the use of illegal sites is the difficulty that consumers have in distinguishing between licensed and unlicensed platforms. Some 68 per cent of players said they did not know how to differentiate between the two. NOGA argues that this is made more challenging by the advertising ban introduced last July, which is to be expanded to social media.

De Goeij said: “Players often have no idea. This is partly due to the advertising ban on TV, radio, and newspapers. If you search on Google, you will immediately end up at dozens of illegal casinos.”

VNLOK, the trade organisation for licensed online gambling providers, also raised concerns about the findings. Chairman Helma Lodders said: “The protection of players, particularly vulnerable ones such as young adults, is our top priority. Online gambling providers with a licence have an important responsibility to prevent and identify risky or problematic gambling behaviours as much as possible. Taking a chance should be fun and not lead to problems.”

Last week, the Dutch gaming affiliate trade group KVA published the results of research that shows minors are accessing gambling via unlicensed sites. The association has passed its report to VNLOK and NOGA as well as to the Dutch gambling regulator Kansspelautoriteit (KSA). 

Proposed changes to Dutch gambling framework

The Dutch gambling sector faces a range of potential new challenges, from new technical restrictions to a proposed tax hike. The Dutch Advisory Board on Regulatory Burden (ATR), an independent watchdog that monitors regulatory burdens on businesses, consumers and the public sector, has argued that proposed monthly financial risk checks on customer accounts would represent an unnecessary technical burden for operators. The government proposal is for the checks to apply when spending surpasses €350. There would also be a mandatory €150 loss limit for players aged under 24.

Meanwhile, NOGA has criticised the incoming coalition government’s plans to raise gambling tax in the Netherlands. After six months of negotiations, the Party for Freedom (PVV) says it has agreed a basis to form a coalition government with the Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD), the New Social Contract party (NSC) and the Farmer-Citizen Movement (BBB). A proposed “budgetary appendix of coalition agreements” mentions a “structural taxation increase” in gambling tax to 37.8 per cent​​”.