The Netherlands’ gambling minister Franc Weerwind gave a positive initial assessment of the safeguards in the KOA regime but noted the country should cautiously proceed forward with the gambling reforms.
Proceed Forward with Caution
Weerwind, who replaced former minister Sander Dekker earlier this year after the re-election of Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte introduced a re-shuffle in the cabinet, faced questions in the House of Representatives this week on how the KOA regime should continue with the regulatory reform.
He was also tested on his opinion and whether it aligns with current developments in Belgium where his counterpart Vincent Van Quickenborne launched a crusade against gambling advertising by proposing a draft decree to enforce a ban and replicate actions taken against gambling advertising in Italy and Spain.
Weerwind stated that gambling is considered by many as “a form of leisure” and is harmless for a large portion of the public, yet involves risks, and protection for the vulnerable should be provided at the source.
“Games of chance are a form of leisure for many people and do not cause any problems for a very large proportion of people. Gambling does have risks. Because of these risks, it is important that players are well protected. This happens with legal providers, who have to adhere to strict rules.”
Franc Weerwind, Minister for Legal Protection
Excessive Gambling Advertising Poses Risks
He however acknowledged that as effective as the safeguards put in place are, their effectiveness for the most vulnerable people may be jeopardized by “excessive and untargeted advertising” and thus partially sided with his Belgium counterpart.
Weerwind went on to announce that the ministry is currently drafting an “Addiction Prevention Decree” that will provide additional safeguards against gambling advertising and will create new obligations for operators, besides their responsibility to prevent gambling addiction. The minister stated the draft decree would be presented to the House of Representatives before the end of the summer.
On June 30, licensed under the KOA regime gambling operators will not be allowed anymore to use celebrities and sports stars as part of their advertising efforts across all media formats.
The ban will be enforced by the Dutch gaming regulator Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) which issued a reminder to all incumbents and advertising organizations.
Insights into Player Engagement
On the question of the 50% increase in gambling participation since the launch of the new regulatory regime in October 2021, Weerwind responded that the new regime helped the government introduce comprehensive oversight of the market and gather insights related to player engagement.
He also stated that the increase is misleading due to the influx of players from illegal gaming sites, as well as from those who only visited the sites without registering for a player account.
Weerwind was more concerned with data showing that 17% of all player accounts belong to people aged 18-24, a group of people representing only 11% of the population.
“The protection of vulnerable people is better guaranteed with legal providers than with illegal providers. Where even better protection appears to be necessary, as is the case with advertising for games of chance, we will take measures,” he concluded.