The Dutch Gambling Authority, Kansspelautoriteit (KSA), has recently announced new measures to battle problematic gambling in the country. The regulator revealed that it undertook an inspection of existing operators in the country, to check whether they were able to monitor gambling patterns in real-time. A duty of care report was published by the KSA last week, identifying the operators who were not monitoring gambling patterns in real time. The report stated that Dutch citizens were at serious risk owing to the inability of operators to monitor patterns. The KSA backed up this report with the announcement that it has decided to fund three new initiatives in the country to promote safer gambling.
The Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) is the Dutch gambling regulator that is responsible for ensuring that gambling in the Netherlands is conducted safely and responsibly. To prevent problematic gambling, the KSA has launched several initiatives and research programs that focus on the prevention of problems and harm caused by gambling, better treatment of people with gambling problems, and raising awareness of problem gambling. The authority is responsible for regulating the Dutch gambling market, which includes issuing licenses to operators, monitoring their activities, and ensuring that they comply with the relevant laws and regulations. The purview of its duties also includes investigating illegal gambling activities and taking appropriate action against those who violate the law. It also provides information to the public about gambling in the Netherlands, including the risks associated with gambling and how to get help if someone has a gambling problem.
Recently, the regulator undertook a study of ten of the operators offering gambling services in the Netherlands. The KSA analysed the online gaming licensees who had been active for a minimum of six months by 1 June 2022. The study was focused on how these operators implemented their duty of care policies. Under the duty of care policy, all licensed operators in the Netherlands are required to monitor gambling patterns in real-time, to spot and stop any problematic or illegal gambling immediately. In the study, the KSA found that the licensees all had differences in policies, organization, and implementation. Due to this, it was not possible to compare the operators. KSA concluded that Dutch gamblers could suffer serious damage in a short time due to the inability of the licensees to monitor gambling behaviour adequately. The regulator announced that it will tighten its policies and make amendments to the legislation for gambling operators to fulfil their duty of care obligations. The Responsible Gaming policy of the nation will be updated with regard to areas such as the obligation for real-time monitoring, rules on indicators that should be included in the assessment of problematic gambling, and mandatory blocking of accounts of problematic gamblers.
In light of the duty of care study, the KSA also announced its decision to fund three projects for safe gambling in the nation. The regulator will fund these initiatives via the Netherlands’ addiction prevention fund, the Verslavingspreventiefonds (VPF), which was established in 2021 through the Remote Gambling Act. The VPF is funded through the additional levies on licensed operators. The KSA works together with ministries of health, welfare and sport, and justice and security to distribute the funds. The VPF is responsible for funding initiatives that raise awareness of problem gambling and provide vital help for people affected by addictions. The three projects include an update on e-learning early detections of gambling problems, a guide informing people about the risks of games of chance and where they can seek help on Geldfit.nl, and a program to educate young adults about healthy choices. The e-learning program aims to train doctors, mental healthcare workers, psychologists, and debt counsellors to detect early signs of problem gambling. Geldfit will offer Dutch citizens advice and solutions on financial and debt management so they can take back control of their situation. Meanwhile, the ‘Bright at School’ program by Trimbos Institute is designed to encourage healthy choices among Dutch young adults and help parents and teachers detect early signs of problem gambling.
KSA investigates prohibited cashback bonuses
The Dutch Gambling Authority currently has its hands full with its constant efforts to curb problematic gambling in the country. The KSA is working tirelessly to provide a safe gambling environment to the Dutch citizens. Recently, the regulator enforced a ban on untargeted gambling advertising in the country. It has also cracked down on violators and issued warnings to operators found non-compliant with the new policies. In a new development, the Dutch regulator has launched a market-wide investigation into prohibited cashback bonuses being offered by licensed operators within the nation. Back in November 2022, the KSA had ordered all operators to stop cashback bonuses as it violated the gambling law in the country. In the Netherlands, bonuses are considered as a promotional activity, and advertising that can lead to immoderate gambling is prohibited. Therefore the KSA has disallowed cashback bonuses.
Recently, the regulator was alerted about a cashback bonus offered by a licensed operator. The KSA took immediate action which led to the permit holder immediately ceasing the activity. The signal showed the KSA that despite its warning to cease offering cashback bonuses, several operators in the country might still be offering them. This prompted the regulator to go deeper and launch a market-wide investigation into all licensed operators in the country. The regulator released a statement announcing the investigation.
“This breach showed that despite the earlier market-wide warning, licensees still appear to be working with cashback bonuses. We have therefore started a market-wide investigation. In the Netherlands, bonuses are classed as an advertising activity. According to the law, adverts may not encourage immoderate gaming behaviour. It is our opinion that this is the case with cashback bonuses. They contribute to taking more risks and lowering the threshold for gambling, for example by playing with higher stakes or playing more often.”
KSA flags Betent and Play North for AML violations
The Dutch regulator had launched investigations into licensed operators Betent BV and Play North Limited in May 2022, regarding Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing (Prevention) Act (Wwft) violations. The investigation by KSA revealed that the operators in question failed to sufficiently check and monitor the origin of the money used and the gambling behaviour of the players, which is mandatory under the Wwft. Betent BV and Play North Limited were given notices by the KSA instructing them to get the monitoring in order.
In the case of Betent, KSA concluded that the operator was not able to sufficiently monitor the customer behaviour continuously, which therefore corresponds to Betent’s incapability to ascertain the player’s risk profile. Though the operator had challenged the ruling, in February 2023 the KSA board upheld it’s decision. Meanwhile, for Play North, the regulator ruled that 11 of the 14 customer investigations submitted were insufficient to monitor behaviour. The operator objected to the ruling but was also struck down by KSA’s board. In November 2022, both operators were made aware of the decisions and given three months to make amendments to the violations.
This is the first time that the KSA has taken action under the Wwft. The decisions of the KSA have now become irrevocable due to which the same have been made public. The KSA noted that making this decision public helps to make the broader public aware of the enforcement actions and the regulator’s reasons for it, it makes other operators aware of the behaviour that could lead to breaches, and it will discourage other operators from violating the Wwft.
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