Dutch regulator publishes duty of care guidelines

2 July 2019

Dutch gambling regulator the Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) has published its final duty of care guidelines, following a public consultation on the player protection measures.

The consultation launched in March, after it was left to the KSA to determine what the requirement for licensees to have a duty of care to consumers should actually constitute. This was set out in the Remote Gaming Act, which passed the country’s Senate in February this year.

KSA chair René Jansen said the regulator has published the guidelines to ensure operators paid particular attention to consumer attention when developing its strategy for the Dutch market.

“We have found that in practice there is sometimes a lack of clarity about what gambling providers must and can actually do to fulfil their duty of care,” he explains. “This results in quite significant differences [in approach]. For these reasons we have made this guide, to provide tools for gambling providers.”

As such, operators will be required to provide transparent and appropriate information about the range of games of chance offered, the risks associated with each title, and ways for consumers to play responsibly.

This includes the individual characteristics of each game, including the different forms it can take, and the way in which the winner is determined. The conditions and costs of participating must also be clearly stated. Operators must also set out the prizes on offer, and how this is awarded.

Licensees are also required to provide information and tools to help players gamble responsibly. This can range from information about the risks of each title, including information from third-party sources, to self-testing features to determine a player’s risk profile. All information must be presented in clear and simple language.

Citing a study that estimates around 70% of players believe voluntary limit setting to be a positive feature, the KSA requires operators to offer time and spending limits to customers. Each player’s activity must be monitored, so that the operator can intervene if they show signs of developing problems.

Such players must be offered the ability to self-exclude from gambling. This must be complemented by information and advice from the operator on how to better control their gambling. While the KSA noted that operators can be fined for failure to enforce a self-exclusion, it said there were exceptions, namely if a player commits identity fraud to circumvent the exclusion.

A plan to ensure that games are offered and advertised in a manner that will not appeal to under-18s must also be set out. The 18+ age limit must be prominently displayed across all channels.

To help players avoid developing problems with gambling, operators must develop a comprehensive prevention policy, for which they have sought and applied advice from gambling addiction treatment professionals. This must set out distinct policies for recreational, at-risk and problem players. At-risk individuals must be constantly monitored, with operators to take timely action to ensure these players do not evolve into problem gamblers.

In addition, licensees must set out distinct policies for interacting with vulnerable groups. A separate policy for players that participate in a range of different lottery games, focused on budget control rather than addiction prevention, must also be drawn up. These policies must be easily accessible to the end consumer.

The directors and management of gambling businesses must be fully aware of their companies’ duty of care policies, and be able to demonstrate their knowledge. This should be complemented by a training policy for staff, to ensure they are able to interact appropriately with all customer groups. They should be able to identify key markers of potential harm, such as increasing frequency of play, long play sessions and shifting play times.

The Dutch market is expected to open for business on January 1, 2021, with the licensing process running from July 1, 2020, provided all regulations are in place. The KSA has noted a particularly high level of interest in securing a licence, with 183 companies indicating they will be looking to participate in the market.