SBC News Dutch market feels the strain as minors engage with Illegal websites

Dutch market feels the strain as minors engage with Illegal websites

SBC News Dutch market feels the strain as minors engage with Illegal websites
Jake Pollard

Stakeholders’ confidence in online gambling safeguards is rocked as new study shows illegal gaming websites are widely available to Dutch minors…

New research carried out by the Dutch affiliate trade group KVA and shared with the iGaming associations VNLOK and NOGA has found that Dutch minors are able to access unlicensed online gambling websites and gamble on them without any restrictions.

The KVA carried out the research, which it has passed on to the regulatory authority Kansspelautoriteit (KSA), to examine whether minors could open accounts with illegal online sites.

It found that underage players could open accounts with just an email address or phone number and make deposits from their youth bank accounts or anonymously with cryptocurrencies, both of which are strictly prohibited for licensed operators. Access to real money products was immediate.

The findings also showed that “illegal casinos are usually difficult to distinguish from licensed casinos” and will “misuse the name and corporate identity of legal providers or facilitate deposits with Dutch banks”, said the KVA.

The timing of the findings comes as the Netherlands looks set to increase taxes on operators and the regulated industry worries about the reach of illegal gambling websites across the country, with SEO ranking and advertising by illegal operators reaching vulnerable groups such as underage players.

Helma Lodders, chairman of VNLOK, said the findings were “alarming”, but not surprising as illegal providers have been targeting the Dutch market for some time, while Peter-Paul de Goeij, managing director of NOGA, said the findings “undermine confidence in the regulated” industry.


The news coincides with the upcoming one-year anniversary of the advertising restrictions that came into force in the Netherlands and Belgium, where iGaming companies must ensure that 95% of their visitors are older than 24 and TV, radio, print and online advertising have been banned. Sports sponsorships will be forbidden from July next year.

Affiliates say the measures have had significant impacts on their activities, have led to the cancellation of contracts with some operators taking advantage of the situation to cut costs and forcing them to implement age-gates. The affiliates added that the regulations have also left them in limbo with regard to their long-term impact.

SBC News Dutch market feels the strain as minors engage with Illegal websites
Frank Op de Woerd: Casino Nieuws,

Frank Op de Woerd, CEO of the Dutch affiliate Casino Nieuws, told Gaming&Co that while players haven’t been affected, “allowing a maximum 5% of 18-24 year olds to be reached caused a massive technical challenge” and “the technical hurdle was too big for some, even for some of the bigger affiliates”.

As a result, some affiliates “quit, some moved (back) to (working with) illegal offerings” and others such as “, one of the biggest in the Netherlands”, was acquired by Op de Woerd’s Casino Nieuws.

The reach and scale of unlicensed operators in regulated markets, especially where advertising or product restrictions, such as in Germany, are in place, is a recurring topic. How much does Op de Woerd have to deal with this issue?

‘Crazy high’ offers

“The illegal operators knock on my door almost every day, offering ‘crazy high’ CPAs and revenue share/hybrid deals. They are actively targeting Dutch players, as their lifetime values are proven to be big. With more restrictions coming up, the illegal operators are upping their game to attract Dutch players and they’re using all the usual tactics in their playbooks to get them.”

Returning to the regulated sector, Op de Woerd said one year on from the introduction of the new advertising rules, the relationship between affiliates and most operators is “better than ever”. “The affiliates deliver players while adhering to all the rules and the operators are generally happy with their efforts,” he added.

The Netherlands’ marketing restrictions are aimed at protecting players who are under 24 years of age from being exposed to “untargeted” gambling advertising. They are part of a backlash against the waves gambling advertising that followed the Netherlands’ regulation of online gambling in late 2021, while in Belgium they are part of a backlash similar to those in markets like Spain and Italy in recent years.


This article is published by SBCNews in partnership with Gaming&Co.
Next week: Gaming&Co will run an interview with Steven Vrolijk, CEO of the KVA, and other Dutch and Belgian affiliates on how the Benelux market has evolved since the new marketing regulations came into force.

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