Update on affordability measures announced by the Dutch Gambling Authority

The Dutch Gambling Authority (‘Ksa’) adopted a new Responsible Gaming Policy Rule last week for licensed online gambling operators in relation to responsible gambling measures. 

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One major change in the new Policy Rule concerns added conditions under which players are deemed unable to afford their gambling behaviour, such as deposits exceeding 700 EUR or 300 EUR for adolescents.

Under the Dutch Gambling Act, licensed operators are obliged to monitor player behaviour and assess whether there is a reasonable suspicion of a risk of gambling addiction. necessitates operators to record ‘internal and external indicators’ that hint at potential excessive gambling. So far, general signals like very frequent participation, socially unacceptable treatment of others, or irregular gambling behaviour were identified as relevant signals.

In the light of recent political pressure to further regulate online gambling  in the Netherlands – as outlined during the Global Gambling webinar, the Ksa has expanded these indicators by introducing a further list of indicators in the Responsible Gaming Policy Rule. These suggest or indicate reasonable suspicions that a player might be at risk of addiction. The indicators that should ring alarm bells for operators now include specified circumstances such as players’ inability to bear the financial consequences of their gambling, complaints about a lack of success or luck, gambling during the night, playing longer than 6 hours, or using multiple payment methods for deposits.

Two of these circumstances are clarified in separate stipulations. The first one is the inability to bear financial consequences. This should be monitored based on failed deposits due to insufficient funds, deposits amounting to 30% of a person’s net monthly income, or deposits over 700 EUR (or 300 EUR for adolescents) – considering that the 30% is derived from someone’s ‘savings and leisure’ budget that can be spent on gambling and leading to the absolute amounts being 30% of the (in short) average Dutch wage, or part of a debt rescheduling programme. The second situation is when a player exhibits gaming behaviour leading to negative personal, social or societal consequences. For example, if the player loses their job, experiences physical or mental issues or is treated for their addictions. These indicators can surface through phone calls with gambling operator’s employees or reports from other players.

For licensed operators in the Netherlands, these rules provide further guidance on where to focus to fulfill their proactive duty of care. While the extensive list appears to offer clarity, the exact scope and meaning of the various indicators and aspects is not always fully obvious. This could also place an additional administrative burden on licensed operators to compare and weigh various circumstances, as a single indicator is often not enough to warrant intervention. Nonetheless, the legislator has noted the new Policy Rule does not imply that licensees would need to actively seek indicators in the absence of reasonable suspicion, or to proactively request a player’s financial capacity.

The majority of the Policy Rule already entered into force. However, the abovementioned provisions regarding the monitoring of indicators will take effect from 1 October 2024.

 

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