Rene Jansen KSA

René Jansen: The KSA’s balancing act between licencing and prevention

One year and two months after the regulation of the Dutch online gambling space, the market has grown to include 24 operators serving 563,000 players, but this has left the regulator with a conundrum to address. 

René Jansen, Chair of the Kansspelautoriteit (KSA), the Dutch Gambling Authority, broke down market developments in the Netherlands as a full year of regulated online activity comes to a close, in a speech to the Amsterdam Gambling & Awareness Congress 2022.

The KSA’s lead outlined that the regulator has three key objectives: protecting consumers, preventing gambling addiction and combating illegality and crime. 

However, Jansen observed that prevention of gambling is, to some extent, at odds with the KSA’s remit to issue licences, which has seen the number of active operators in the Netherlands double since 1 October. 

“It may seem contradictory at first glance; on the one hand, our legislation allows more companies to legally offer games of chance, and on the other hand, insist on addiction prevention,” he said.

“The reality is that the Remote Gambling Act allows us to exert more influence on this prevention through our supervision of licensees.”

Jansen claimed that games of chance, as gambling products are referred to in the Netherlands, are a ‘fact of life’, adding these must be organised and provided safely and fairly. 

He warned: “If that is not the case, then we will find something about it and we will take action against abuses where we can.”

A notable recent example of this is the KSA’s €400,000 fine against Toto Online, a Nederlandse Loterij subsidiary, for advertising its gambling products to 18-23-year-olds. 

On the topic of advertising, Jansen stated that there has been a noticeable increase in visible gambling marketing, whether this is across television or on roadside billboards. 

He also noted that political and public discourse has also covered whether or not playing limits are restrictive enough, or whether operators’ duty of care is adequately implemented. 

“The opening up of the market and the number of providers trying to secure a place on the market often leads to a kind of ‘overkill’ in such an initial phase, before normalisation takes place,” he said. That is why there has been and will be intervention in various areas, both by the Minister and by the KSA.”

As well as the financial penalty against Toto Online, the KSA has also been active throughout the World Cup, to prevent the ‘overkill’ of advertising Jansen referred to.

The authority also issued a warning to licence holders last month to stop providing ‘cashback bonuses’, and has monitored the industry for potential violations of anti-money laundering requirements. 

The KSA Chair stated that gambling addiction can often be ‘hidden’, and it can have serious and far-reaching consequences, which is why the KSA focuses on supervision of duty of care, the Cruks self-exclusion scheme and addiction prevention fund.

Lastly, Jansen highlighted the importance of working in a targeted manner, in addition to coordinating the role of the KSA through structured consultations between stakeholders.

He concluded: “And that also brings me to an appeal to you, ladies and gentlemen, about the point I started with, which is the importance of cooperation. 

“I hope that this day will make an important contribution to that. Because only with the cooperation and an open dialogue beyond our own agendas can we improve the care that is needed for people with a gambling addiction. 

“And above all: prevent addiction as much as possible. That is what I am committed to as KSA chairman, and I know you are too.”

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