Online gamblers face lower limits, income checks under new rules

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Legal protection minister Franc Weerwind plans to introduce a €700 monthly maximum for online gamblers to better protect them against addiction from April.

Currently, it is up to players to decide how much they want to spend, so alarm bells will only ring if they break that limit, even if it is set at €10,000. Nor are there any substantial controls on whether people can afford such amounts.

The gambling authority KSA said earlier this year that gambling firms are failing in their duty of care by not properly monitoring client behaviour. One of the main reasons for legalising online gambling in October 2021 was to offer better protection to problem players.

Since then, some 60,000 people have banned themselves from all forms of online gambling for periods of at least six months.

Weerwind’s new proposals include a much bigger role for gambling firms who will have to make personal contact with all punters wishing to introduce a monthly maximum of €350 or more. They must alert gamblers to the risks and point them towards help and support if they need it.

The rules will be stricter for the under-24s because research has shown they are more at risk of becoming addicted. They will be limited to a maximum of €300 per month and will face personal intervention from €150.

“Research has shown that gambling firms encourage players to spend more than they can afford,” Weerwind said in a briefing to parliament. “These measures compel providers to intervene earlier and give players more grip on their gaming behaviour.”

However, the limits will only apply on a company basis and problem gamblers will still be able to open accounts with more gambling firms. In total, 27 companies now have a licence to offer online gambling in the Netherlands.

The number of accounts held with online gambling companies more than doubled in the second half of last year to 860,000, netting them around €1.1 billion before taxes, the KSA said in April. Some 60% of punters have started gambling following its legalisation two years ago.

The government has already brought in legislation to phase out ads on tv, radio and public places to protect gambling addicts and other vulnerable people. Ads are seen as the main driver for gambling, particularly if they feature well known (sports) personalities, a practice which has now also been banned.

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