Dutch regulator the Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) has set out three key priorities in the year ahead alongside its preparations for the opening of the country’s regulated igaming market in 2021.
While the regulator has traditionally set out four priorities for each year, it explained that much of its resources were dedicated to preparing for processing licences, monitoring operator activity and enforcing regulations.
As such, it has reduced its priorities to three: stopping underage play, efforts to prevent addiction and combating illegal gambling and gambling-related crime.
To protect minors from the harmful effects of gambling, the KSA will monitor licensed operators’ advertising for any elements that may appeal to those aged under 18. It will also rely on local authorities to ensure gambling devices such as slot machines are not available in outlets where minors may congregate.
It is to discuss whether minors should be permitted to enter gaming arcades that host gambling devices, and will work with Nederlandse Loterij to ensure underage players cannot access its Toto product.
Turning to addiction prevention, the regulator admitted that customer protection measures in place for gaming arcades and Holland Casino may be insufficient. Therefore all licensees will be asked to assess whether current processes fulfil their duty of care to customers, as well as conducting an audit of Holland Casino’s addiction prevention policy.
As in 2019, it will continue to tackle illegal gambling online by monitoring sites that offer their services in the Dutch language, or with Netherlands-only payment methods, and work with local authorities to shut down unlicensed land-based locations.
Last year the regulator levied fines totalling €3.5m – more than double 2018’s penalties – and has already pledged to add a €50,000 premium on fines imposed on those looking to exploit the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic to promote illegal products.
Looking back on 2019, KSA chair René Jansen described the year as “historic” for the Dutch gambling industry, after the Remote Gambling Act finally passed the country’s legislature after years in stasis.
“The legalisation and regulation of online gambling through a licensing system is undoubtedly the most obvious change from the current situation,” Jansen said. “But the Remote Gambling Act, does more that just adding to and amending the 1964 Gambling Act.
“The new law ensures that new requirements in the area of addiction prevention have a firm legal grounding,” he continued.
“In the current law there is not much more [on player protection] beyond stating that providers of games of chance have a ‘duty of care’. That was perhaps enough to prevent gambling addiction in 1964, but with the current channels of supply, more is necessary.”
Jansen admitted that it was barely possible to maintain the current prohibition of igaming, with more than 1m Dutch citizens already gambling online.
“Consumer demand is there and will not go away,” Jansen said. “In the fight against illegal online offering the KSA once again tried its best in 2019, but to be honest sometimes it felt like mopping the floor with the tap running.”
Under the new regulatory regime – due to come into force from 1 January 2021, with the market opening from 1 July – Jansen said the KSA would be better placed to support consumers. It would be able to ensure licensees were compliant with regulations, as well as gaining additional powers to crack down on illegal activity.
“The goal of the new law is an eighty percent channelisation after three years,” he said. “That is to say, eight out of ten online gamblers playing with a licensed operator within three years after opening of the online gambling market.
“This is not the end goal; for years after that we will be striving for an (even) higher degree of channelling”