Dutch regulator launches consumer protection consultation

13 March 2019

Dutch gambling regulator Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) has launched a consultation to gather opinion from the industry and other stakeholders about new player protection measures for the country's regulated igaming market.

Last month, the Dutch Senate passed the Remote Gaming Act, paving the way for the roll-out igaming regulations in the country. However, although the regulations state that operators must have a ‘duty of care’ to consumers, it has been left to the KSA to decide what this constitutes.

The KSA has now published a series of proposed guidelines, and is seeking feedback from the industry and the public via a consultation that will run until April 22.

The KSA’s guidelines state that consumers must be able to make an informed choice in regards to if they want to place a bet and, if so, which operator they would like to bet with.

In relation to this, the KSA is proposing that licensees provide an explanation of how games of chance work, the terms and conditions for these games and the statistical chances of winning.

Consumers must also be able to immediately see risks associated with gambling, while the 18-years-old age restriction should be clearly displayed. Operators must also offer information about self-exclusion, suspension, limit setting and help for addiction – all of which should be portrayed in easy-to-understand language.

The KSA is also proposing that licensed operators offer limit-setting controls to users. Limit controls must be set at zero, with the consumer then responsible for deciding how much they can afford to gamble.

Players should also be able to set limits on how many deposits they can make in a set period of time, as well as how much cash they can have in their account. The KSA has also suggested developing an app to help monitor player behaviour and spending.

The regulator has also stressed the importance of identity and age verification when it comes to consumers signing up with operators. A customer’s age and identity must be verified before deposit stage, while checks must be carried out to ensure underage or excluded players cannot gamble.

Licence-holders must have in place some form of addiction prevention policy, in which they should set out approaches for recreational players, at-risk players and problem players. In terms of at-risk players, licensees must monitor their behaviour and intervene if this escalates by advising players to gamble less, set limits or temporarily exclude.

The KSA has also said that these policies must set out controls for 18-23 age group, with licence-holders required to provide contact details of addiction support charities and services available to all at-risk or problem customers.

As part of this approach, the KSA expects operators to work with experts in setting up their addiction prevention policy, while all shop staff and igaming operator employees must be given adequate training to help spot any problem gambling behaviour.

The KSA also said that involuntary exclusion from gambling should only be used as a last resort, for those customers that have problems but continually return to playing.

In addition, the KSA set out proposals for complaints procedures, which should be clearly set out on operator’s site, while the ability for players to shut down their gaming accounts must be clearly available and easy to do.

As part of the consultation process, the KSA will host a number of sessions right across the Netherlands over the coming weeks to allow stakeholders to have their say on the proposals.

The first of these sessions will take place in Eindhoven on March 26, followed by Amsterdam on March 28. Sessions are also scheduled for Zwolle on April 2, Utrecht on April 9 and Rotterdam on April 11. Those interested in attending these sessions should first register with the KSA. Registration is open until March 18.

Publication of the proposed guidelines comes after the KSA earlier this month also set out plans to increase the fines for illegal online gaming. Operators that breach national regulations could now face a starting fine of €200,000 (£171,300/$226,100), up from the previous penalty of €150,000.