Dutch enhanced player monitoring plans head for EC approval

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Weerwind first announced the measures – which would amend aspects of the Remote Gambling Act (KOA) – in December. The submission to the European Commission took place on 28 February, with a standstill period now in place until 29 May. This standstill allows the amendments to be considered by the European Commission and other member states.

The notification outlines a number of amendments to the KOA, which took effect on 1 October 2021. Among other things, if enforced, these would include monitoring on players who deposit more than €350 per month.

Changes to the player profile

An amendment to Article 3.19 of the KOA proposes that players enter their bet limits in an empty input field. This is instead of a pre-set amount, to avoid influencing the player.

The notification also outlines a “contact point” for operators, set out in Article 3.19.d. This means that the operator must contact a player if they are aged 24 or over and deposit more than €350 per month, €87.50 per week or €12.50 per day. For players aged between 18 and 24, this point is €150 per month, €37.50 per week and €5.35 per day.

An amendment to Article 3.5 of the KOA suggests that all bets, winnings and losses a player incurs must be displayed in euros. However, in certain circumstances where poker is played, these would be shown in US dollars.

A similar amendment was suggested for Article 3.5.a. In this instance, if a player places a bet that is higher than the minimum amount, the player would receive a warning message communicating that they can submit a lower bet. The message would also display the minimum bet amount.

KOA amendments necessary for player protection

The draft text identifies three areas addressed by the amendments. These are how operators display information to players and the option for high play limits, clarity surrounding changing play limits, and how gaming limits are put into practice.

According to the text, these mean that “with the current method, excessive participation and gambling addiction can not be sufficiently counteracted and that additional measures are necessary”.

The text goes on to emphasise the need for change to the current regulation. It admits that although operators will be under more pressure, this is necessary for player protection.

“These changes will place additional demands on the licensee and increase their burdens, but the additional demands are necessary to provide better protection for the players and point out the risks of gambling,” it reads.

When Weerwind first announced the measures, Peter-Paul de Goeij, chairman of the Dutch Online Gambling Association (NOGA) said the measures emphasised the role of duty of care. But he added that legal gambling must not be made to seem “too unattractive”.

“It is good that the minister clarifies the rules for safe gambling and thus makes the duty of care more concrete,” he said.

“At the same time, we must always be careful that legal gambling is not made too unattractive. We will study the proposal carefully and make suggestions to improve it and thus achieve the desired effects.”

KSA issues record €19.6m fine

The enforcement of the KOA brought about a new era of regulation for the Netherlands in 2021. Since then, the Netherlands’ regulator Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) has closely monitored the market for illegal operators offering services to Dutch residents.

Last week, the KSA issued Gammix with a record €19.6m fine for offering games to Dutch residents without a licence. Gammix had been issued with two previous orders by the KSA. One was in July 2022 – to remove itself from the market or risk paying €1.4m – and the second was an order to pay €4.4m in March last year.

In its decision, the KSA noted that Gammix had “not taken any measures to ban players from the Netherlands”. René Jansen, chairman of the KSA said the regulator was working to shut down illegal sites to protect Dutch players.

“Dutch players must be protected: that is why we are cracking down on illegal offers,” he said. “We see that illegal providers often pay little attention to the player and do not adhere to a duty of care.”

“We also see this with this provider: there was no clear age verification. That is extremely harmful. We will therefore continue to take sanctions, even if providers repeatedly make mistakes.”

More changes likely afoot

The industry is likely to see further changes in the Netherlands, with a recent court ruling throwing the Dutch lottery monopoly into question.

Last week, the East Brabant District Court ruled in favour of two operators that had argued their applications for licences had been unfairly rejected by the KSA. At the time, the KSA has dismissed the applications with the argument that Nederlandse Loterij already held the monopoly in the country.

Furthermore, the court said the KOA – on which KSA based its rejections – did not align with Article 56 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. This article bans prohibitions on offering services within EU member states.

Ultimately, the court concluded that stopping operators from offering services outside a monopoly system is not unnecessary to protect “public interests” in gambling. This is because it does not support essential aspects such as player protection.

The court ultimately determined that Dutch gambling policy is “no longer horizontally consistent” in the “current state of affairs”.

“[The] court notes the current gambling policy, after the entry into force of the KOA Act, has a single licence system for land-based games of chance with a smaller risk of addiction and a smaller chance of criminal activities,” read the ruling.

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