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Dutch government to shake-up gambling addiction prevention

| By Richard Mulligan
The Dutch government plans to submit new rules to improve addiction prevention early next year after admitting the current system is flawed.

Franc Weerwind, the minister for legal protection, said recent data published by the Dutch regulator indicated a need for change. A KSA report into the duty of care from online licensees revealed players are at risk due to inconsistent monitoring.

Weerwind, who was responding to questions tabled in parliament, said he is committed to adjusting rules to provide additional measures. He aims to submit the necessary regulations for consultation early next year. The evaluation of the Remote Gambling Act in 2024 will also examine whether addiction prevention within the law is effective.

He added: “It is too early to judge the entire approach as successful or unsuccessful. I will closely monitor the effects of the various activities.

“I am committed to combating gambling addiction, but I do not consider it realistic to prevent addiction altogether.”

Senate members question safeguarding strategy

Weerwind was answering questions tabled by the senate factions of D66 and the Party for the Animals (PvdD). Their queries focused in particular on safeguarding for vulnerable groups.

The minister noted that in July, 23% of the 45,787 registered in the Netherlands’ self-exclusion scheme – Cruks – were under 25.

Plans to assist vulnerable people, such as young adults, include a KSA campaign in the autumn. This will test how Cruks’ brand awareness can best be increased among different target groups.

Other initiatives include a programme that identifies and provides guidance for risky or problematic gambling behaviour among young adults. Developed by the Trimbos Institute, a specialist in addressing addiction issues, it will also be delivered in schools from 2024.

While awareness activities for specific target groups are being developed by the KSA and the ministry of health, welfare and sport, the consumer-facing Geldfit financial advice body is also developing a pilot relating to gambling debts. This programme is expected to be delivered in the first half of 2024.

Addiction advice body Jellinek is also assessing its provision for gambling services, with Weerwind describing its e-learning programme for frontline professionals, which is funded by the government’s Addiction Prevention Fund, as “outdated”.

Over the next 12 months it will be decided whether e-learning sufficiently meets the needs of frontline professionals or if alternative means are required.

Following the publication of its report earlier this year, KSA said it will tighten its own duty of care policies and recommend legislative amendments to the ministry of justice and security.

The regulator added that the operators involved had requested “a more uniform interpretation or clarification of certain standards, so that a more level playing field is created and they all comply with the same rules”.

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