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Dutch government to consider cross-operator stake and time limits

| By Daniel O'Boyle
Dutch minister for legal protection Franc Weerwind will look into stake and time limits that apply across all operators, amid continued pressure from MPs to crack down further on the sector.

Weerwind provided an update to parliament following a number of motions about the gambling sector that have come along in a little over six months since the market opened.

Most notably, this included a motion from Michael van Nipsen calling for a ban on “untargeted advertising” which was passed in parliament at the end of 2021. 

In his update, Weerwind commented on time and spend limits. Currently, all players must limit themselves when they set up an online gambling account.

While this rule is in place, regulator de Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) noted that some operators allowed players to choose extremely high limits, which it said was not in the “spirit of the law”.

Addressing these criticisms, Weerwind said he would look into two possible solutions to the problem.

“I want two options for investigation,” he said. “Setting a maximum to the existing limits and examining whether a limit can apply across all providers.

“For privacy reasons, it was not decided in the Gambling Act to monitor gaming behaviour,

including playing limits, across all providers, but I am now investigating whether technology has

advanced to such an extent that this mode can still be found specifically for playing limits.”

Weerwind also answered specific questions about the plans to implement van Nipsen’s motion and further steps to limit advertising. 

The Socialist Party and ChristianUnie both criticised Weerwind for determining that the issue of a ban on untargeted ads needed further research, rather than setting out to ban all these advertisements immediately.

“The motion was crystal clear: untargeted advertisements for high-risk games of chance are undesirable and it must therefore be ensured that these advertisements stop as soon as possible. There is therefore no need for further research,” the parties said.

In response, however, Weerwind said that some ads were still necessary to attract players to legal sites.

“The objective of the Remote Gambling Act is to guide players to a legal offering of games of chance,” he said. “This requires some form of advertising.

“I am of the opinion that it would be good to map out the broader social costs and benefits. I am therefore currently exploring the possibilities of a social cost-benefit analysis.”

Weerwind also reiterated his comments from last month, when he said that he “will make every effort to achieve further restrictions on advertising for high-risk games of chance as soon as possible”.

In addition, he again said that the government was looking into only permitting online ads within certain time limits, though he noted that the feasibility of this would depend on the type of ad.

“In anticipation of the ban on untargeted advertising, including a time window for online advertising could be a logical step,” Weerwind said.

“I would like to ensure that the advertising offer does not largely move to the online environment. That is why I will look at possibilities to include a time window for online banners and videos in the decree on recruitment, advertising and addiction prevention.”

Dutch operators have already taken steps to reduce advertising, bringing in a voluntary code of conduct for online operators last year.

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