Franc Weerwind, Dutch Minister for Legal Protections

Weerwind faces pressure to impose a universal loss limit on KOA operators

Further restrictions on online gambling are under discussion in the Netherlands, as the ChristianUnie (Christen Union) urges the Minister for Legal Protection, Franc Weerwind, to propose the addition of a ‘universal financial loss limit’ to the Remote Gambling Act (KOA Act).

The proposal for imposing an “overarching loss limit” across all 27 KOA-licensed operators has the endorsement of CU Party leader Mirjam Bikker, who stated that existing KOA rules are “deficient against excessive gambling, in particular as there is no financial limit applied to online casino games.”

The CU Party has submitted its proposal to Franc Weerwind, the outgoing Minister for Legal Protection, tasked with overseeing the second-stage reform of the KOA Act – which initiated the Netherlands’ regulated online gambling regime in October 2021.

Bikker stated that the proposal for a universal financial loss limit has garnered majority support from various political parties, including the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA), Green Alliance (GroenLinks), Dutch Socialist Party (SP), and the Conservative Reform Party (SGP).

Yesterday, Weerwind acknowledged to the Kamer (Parliament) that he had received the CU’s proposal, but he would not advance it to ministers as “organising such an overarching limit to apply to all 27 online gambling providers is time-consuming and complex to achieve”.

Instead, Weerwind recommended that MPs and Parties concentrate on the KOA proposals set for a vote this February, including his mandate to introduce a compulsory monthly financial risk checks on player accounts that spend over €350.

A loss limit will be applied to the KOA regime, as Weerwind has proposed that a €150 spend restriction be imposed on the gambling accounts of customers aged under-24.

The CU countered by supporting its ‘universal financial loss limit’ as Weerwind’s proposals did not enforce a sweeping restriction on KOA operators. As Bikker pointed out: “With 27 online gambling providers…A quick calculation shows that even with a limit of €150 per month, young people still face the risk of losing an average monthly wage.”

CU and CDA ministers have expressed frustration with Weerwind’s cautious approach, underscoring the urgent requirement to tackle the rise in online gambling addiction, particularly among young adults, and calling for immediate action instead of awaiting further evaluations.

Following the inconclusive results of November’s General Elections, the CDA declared that it would pursue a cross-party bill to “terminate the KOA Act’s existence”.

The CDA maintains that the KOA regime has failed fundamentally in its primary aim to safeguard national consumers and the vulnerable from gambling addiction, and that Dutch parties should collaborate to formulate a new law to amend these shortcomings.

The Ministry of Justice supports Weerwind’s approach, whereby reforms to the KOA Act have proceeded following the 22 recommendations by Dutch public health specialists, advocating for the adoption of “gambling limits, advertising curbs, and addiction prevention policies”.

Weerwind continues in his ministerial role as the formation of a new Dutch government is pending. This week, Geert Wilders, leader of the Nationalist Freedom Party (PVV), was unsuccessful in his latest attempt to establish a new coalition government, as the New Social Contract (NSC) party retreated from negotiations.

Falling 20 seats short of a majority in the Kamer, Wilders may instigate a further General Election in 2024, with recent polls indicating that PVV support is surging amidst the Dutch government’s deadlock.

 

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