Dutch regulator launches investigation into marketing targeting under-25s

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Weerwind responded to questions from Socialist Party MP Michael van Nispen and ChristenUnie MP Mirjam Bikker about bonuses and the licensing process in the country.

When asked about the “hefty” welcome bonuses being offered to players, and how this fit in with the ban on bonuses for players aged 18 to 24, Weerwind revealed that regulator de Kansspelautoriteit was looking into the advertising practices of operators in regards to younger customers,

“The KSA have recently launched an investigation into advertising (including bonus

offers) that licence holders may send to persons between the ages of 18 and 24,” he said.

“In it, the Ksa explicitly calls for reports to be made about advertising aimed at young people up to the age of 24 via its report form.”

Weerwind rejected any notion that operators should be prevented from handing out bonuses altogether, pointing out that these can be an important tool in attracting players that would otherwise gamble with unregulated sites.

“I am aware that there are online gambling providers that give out welcome bonuses to new players,” he said. “Legislation and regulations have deliberately left room to offer bonuses, because this is also used by illegal providers to lure players. 

“Allowing bonuses within the regulated market is necessary in order to provide some counterweight and create an attractive offer. Additional requirements have been set in legislation and regulations for bonuses and savings programmes.

“For example, license holders are not allowed to offer bonuses to a player during their participation in a game of chance. The bonus may also not provoke excessive gaming behaviour.”

When asked about licensing, meanwhile, Weerwind repeated a fact shared by KSA chair Rene Jansen last month, that the regulator is currently considering 30 licence applications. Weerwind added that 17 of these were made in the last week of March alone, just before the country’s cooling-off period came to an end. A number of well-known international operators such as Kindred, Entain and Betsson left the market because of this policy, and said they expected to return with a licence this year.

However, he also dismissed suggestions that the licensing process should be more transparent with  operators under consideration made public and members of the public able to provide their own input on decisions.

“The KSA cannot provide the requested list of names,” he said. “The reason for this is that a game provider to whom a license has been refused may suffer disproportionate disadvantage if the rejection becomes known.”

“I do not think it is opportune to conduct a public consultation, in which citizens and authorities can give their views on the application.”

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