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KSA sets sights on impulsive play with new Dutch player protection rules

| By Daniel O'Boyle
Dutch gambling regulator the Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) has launched a consultation on the country’s new player protection rules, including a ban on offering timed bonuses and a requirement for operators to conduct risk analysis of all their games.

The rules set out a ban on “Bonuses in any way limited by time”, which would refer to any bonus which must be used within a time limit, such as bonuses advertised as “for today only” or “for quick decision-makers”, as well as “happy hour” bonuses.

The restriction forms part of a series of measures intended to reduce impulsive play.

As well as setting out clearly that ads must only be for products which may legally be offered, marketing messages also may not “suggest financial benefit, increase in social acceptance or happiness” from gambling.

Furthermore, advertising must not suggest gambling may be a solution to financial problems, nor may they downplay negative consequences of participation.

Further rules prevent ads from suggesting that a player has any impact on a game of chance or that they can improve their play, as well as from targeting young or vulnerable people, either directly or through the channels by which they are displayed.
This means that ads may not be posted on television programming, social media accounts or websites intended for younger or vulnerable demographics.

Licensees also may not use their licenses status as an advertising tool beyond “the neutral statement that a license holder has a permit under the law”.

In addition, licensees must perform an independent risk analysis for all of their games, which should clearly identify the risk factors for a game based on scientific analysis.

Factors involved in the risk analysis should include game information such as jackpot sizes, return-to-player rates and volatility, as well as factors such as the visual design of the game and its level of accessibility.

The new regulations also clarify the circumstances in which the operator must intervene for the safety of a player. The rules say the licensee should act if the player “can no longer bear the financial consequences of his gaming behaviour; [is] excessively trying to recoup his losses; [or] …shows negative social or societal consequences” such as the loss of their job, application for debt restructuring or the need for addiction treatment.

Licensees must also outline their addiction prevention policies to the KSA as part of the application process.

“License holders have a general duty of care to prevent gambling addiction as much as possible,” the regulations explain. “Because of the negative personal, social and societal consequences of gambling addiction, an active addiction prevention policy is necessary.”

The consultation will run for three weeks with responses to be submitted to the KSA by 9 November, with these responses helping to inform the final regulations to be put in place.

The rules will come into effect with the launch of the Dutch Remote Gambling Act, which is currently scheduled for 1 March, 2021, with the market to open for business on 1 September.

The Act had originally been set to come into effect on 1 July 2020, but was delayed first in November 2019 and then again in September of this year following concerns of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) affecting launch.

The Dutch government has already notified the European Commission of certain other aspects of its gambling regulation, including the requirement for an addiction prevention policy, as well as a rule that players must set maximum credit allowed on their account. In addition, details of technical standards, record-holding and reporting requirements for licensees have been revealed.

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