The Dutch gaming authority KSA has called for legislation and regulations concerning online gambling to be tightened as soon as possible.
The KSA says online gambling companies are not doing enough to protect players who show signs of gambling addiction or who lose lots of money in short periods of time.
The KSA conducted its own research, which was intended for internal use, but NOS reports that it was so shocked by what it found that it made its results public Tuesday.
“We receive worrying signals and, as a regulator, we investigate providers who may far exceed the limits of the duty of care,” said KSA chairman René Jansen.
“If we notice this, we will intervene. With this research we see where … providers are not doing well. Players must be able to assume that they can play safely.
“We see that rules need to be tightened, precisely to further promote a safe environment for players.”
Although the KSA didn’t release the names of the companies it investigated and found most at fault, they are the first 10 to have received permits when online gambling was legalised in 2021. They include the state-owned Toto gambling operator, known for football betting, and another state-owned company, Holland Casino.
According to the report, all 10 companies have different policies regarding duty of care—and they’re proving ineffective.
“Licensees for online gambling could intervene more quickly and effectively in the event of excessive gaming or a possible gambling addiction,” the KSA said. “This is currently not happening sufficiently with too many providers.”
The conclusions stand out because addiction prevention was one of the arguments used to legalise online gambling in the first place.
The case at the time was that players could only be effectively protected in such a “white” system, because the government could then impose strict requirements on the companies that would compete for a permit.
The KSA found that too many of the providers are unable to intervene quickly or adequately in the event of excessive gaming or a possible gambling addiction.
This is due in part to the monitoring methodology they use to detect problem players, which mostly looks at changing in gaming behaviour.
So if a player, for example, has always bet or lost huge amounts, he may go unflagged since it appears to be business as usual.
“An overly one-sided focus on the amount of deposits and bets, where other factors such as the number of hours played are given less weight, also ensures that providers can overlook problem players,” says the KSA.
There’s also an inability to monitor in real time. Many providers need a human to intervene, which means nighttime or weekend gambling problems can also go unnoticed until too late.
The study also looked at young adult players (18 to 24 years old). While online gambling companies have additional limits for this vulnerable group, the report concludes that: “What was striking is that, due to their lower limits, young adults do not always stand out within the monitoring statistics and may therefore not be noticed in time as problem players.”
The KSA says in these cases, too, the focus needs to be on factors other than the size of deposits and bets alone in order to “put a stop to problem gaming in a timely manner”.
Computers are not allowed to block accounts by themselves, and salary checks have never been implemented, meaning problem players can continue to lose money they can’t afford to.
Based on the results, the KSA says it will make recommendations for amendments to legislation and regulations by the ministry of justice and security.
The KSA is working on tightening its own policies, too, including an obligation for real-time monitoring, bolstering indicators when assessing gaming behaviour and the mandatory blocking of problem players until an intervention has taken place.
Its investigations into “providers who may have far exceeded the limits of the duty of care” are continuing.
On average, the KSA estimates that the average player loses €310 euros every month, while in the first year after legalisation, the gambling companies jointly earned €1.1 billion gross.
An advertising ban on online gambling went into effect earlier this year after some 450,000 new gamblers started placing bets.