The Kansspelautoriteit (KSA), the Dutch Gambling Authority, will recommend legislative and regulatory amendments around player protection to the Netherlands’ Ministry of Justice.
A KSA investigation into operator ‘duty of care’ practices concluded this month with the authority judging that companies could ‘intervene more quickly and effectively’ in cases of excessive gambling by certain customers.
In the regulator’s view, current operator player protection and intervention methods and measures are not sufficient to adequately safeguard bettors. As well as making recommendations to the government, the KSA will also enhance its own policies.
René Jansen, KSA Chairman, said: “The KSA puts safe play first. We receive worrying signals and, as a supervisory authority, we investigate providers who may far exceed the limits of their duty of care. If we notice this, we will intervene.
“With this research we see where, outside of these signals, providers are not doing well. Players must be able to assume that they can play safely. We see that rules need to be tightened, precisely to further promote a safe environment for players.”
The tightening of the KSA’s own player protection policies has focused on three areas – firstly, an obligation for operators to conduct real-time monitoring and, secondly, supplementing the rules on indicators included in the assessment of gaming behaviour.
Additionally, the regulator will also require operators to mandatory block problem players’ accounts until an intervention has occurred. The authority has also stressed to licence holders that it is continuing research into cases of duty of care breaches.
The KSA had initially highlighted duty of care concerns in its 2022 annual report, having investigated operators’ policies and practices since the KOA Act launched the Dutch regulated online market on 1 October 2021.
Notably, investigators found differentiation in how operators adopted and implemented duty of care policies, whilst also unearthing little information around the exact processes used by licence holders.
The KSA subsequently launched its investigation, which finished in Q2 2023. Key findings from the probe include that operators are “insufficiently able to intervene quickly or adequately in the event of excessive gaming or a possible gambling addiction”.
This was attributed largely to monitoring methods, with the KSA stating that operators are focusing too heavily on player behaviour, meaning that those who deposit and subsequently bet in large amounts – and possibly lose large amounts – are not noticed until later stages.
A ‘one-sided focus’ on deposits and bets has seen other factors such as the number of hours played given ‘less weight’, meaning some problem players are overlooked, the KSA asserted.
Lastly, the KSA noted that young adults do not always stand out in operator monitoring statistics despite the majority of licence holders applying additional limits for those aged 18-24, as well as some extra measures for 24-30 year olds.
An overly one-sided focus on the amount of deposits and bets, where other factors such as the number of hours played are given less weight, also means that providers can overlook problem players.
The KSA’s recommendations to the Ministry of Justice around operator duty of care policies could potentially see a further tightening of regulations and legislation shortly after the implementation of the untargeted advertising ban in July 2023.
The Ministry of Justice holds primary governmental oversight of the Netherlands’ gambling market and the introduction of legislation around it. Minister for Legal Protections Franc Weerwind was the chief architect of the aforementioned untargeted advertising ban.
As it stands, the authority is also conducting other probes into the Dutch market – which has grown from 10 operators in October 2021 to 24 in 2023, and is projected to continue growing by 15% annually.
Further investigations will notably explore the activities of unlicensed operators and the apparent use of prohibited cashback bonuses.