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Dutch gaming regulator recruits addiction expert

| By Richard Mulligan
Dutch gambling regulator Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) has bolstered its academic resources by appointing addiction expert Gert-Jan Meerkerk as a research partner.

Meerkerk becomes the KSA’s fourth research partner, joining the organisation following the death of Dick de Bruin earlier this year.

Meerkerk, who studied clinical psychology and obtained his PhD in 2007 with a dissertation on excessive internet use, has been affiliated with the Institute for Research into Lifestyles & Addiction (IVO) for 25 years. He has conducted research into various forms of addiction, including gambling, alcohol, social media and the smartphone.

Meerkerk, an advocate of a legal, regulated gambling sector, joins KSA ahead of the introduction of the long-awaited Remote Gambling Act, which will establish a licence system in 2021.

“The gambling market is clearly on the move,” Meerkerk said. “Next year, the Remote Gaming Act will come into force, the law that legalises and regulates online gambling. That means there will be more supply and a lot of marketing.

“I hope and expect to contribute to the knowledge at the KSA about effective means for addiction prevention. That will be a subject that will receive a lot of attention.

“Gambling addiction is not a huge problem in the Netherlands at the moment, it must remain that way. Incidentally, I am in favour of the law, because reclamation does not work. It is easier to protect consumers in a legal, regulated market.”

Research partners support employees of the KSA in the field of addiction prevention, regulation, supervision and combating crime and illegality.

The three other research partners are Joost Poort, from the University of Amsterdam; Erasmus University Rotterdam’s Karin van Wingerde, and Johan Wolswinkel, of Tilburg University. They come from the disciplines of information law, criminology and administrative law.

The Remote Gambling Act is set to come into effect from 1 March, 2021, with the market to open for business on 1 September.

The Dutch government has notified elements of its online gambling regulation to the European Commission for approval.

These include a requirement for licensees to create a policy on addiction prevention, while players must set maximum credit allowed on their account, as well as details of technical standards, record-holding and reporting requirements for licensees.

Under the new regulations, bonuses will be restricted and players and operators will be barred from advertising gambling-related services between 6am and 9pm, while players may also not receive promotions in this time.

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