Tottenham Report: Igaming Holland — Will KSA’s power move create a safer market?

June 13, 2023 11:00 PM
Photo: Shutterstock
  • Curtis Roach
June 13, 2023 11:00 PM
  • Curtis Roach

Since the Dutch online gambling market officially opened up in 2021, it has continued to grow and generate impressive revenues of over 80 million per month (according to KSA research). However, this has not come without its own set of controversies along the way, directly resulting from the notoriously stringent regulatory framework that has been implemented. 

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One of the key objectives for the Dutch regulator de Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) upon the launch of the market was to achieve an 80% channelisation rate and so far, they’ve exceeded this, achieving a current rate of approximately 85%. This, of course, means an influx of new players into the regulated online market and in January 2023, 2.1 million accounts in the Netherlands represented a 158% increase year on year. While more players may be great for business, they also increase pressure on the market to protect them from harm. 

Urgent changes
As a result of this flourishing market, the KSA have recently revealed plans to put forward a set of new recommendations for the country’s government to consider in relation to gambling law.  

Although the government already has plans in place to conduct a wider review of the Remote Gambling Act (ROA) next year, the KSA said that its proposals are too urgent and can’t wait for the evaluation. 

In a recently written legislative letter to the Minister for Legal Protection, Franc Weerwind, the KSA have suggested a number of immediate changes, including a major update to the law, allowing it to carry out its false-proof-of-identity tactic. This will enable the KSA to investigate operators more effectively and they can then take enforcement action against operators who aren’t abiding by its regulations. 

Its ability to generate false ID documents is a big concern for the KSA. Currently, the regulator must first go through the National Identity Agency, which significantly hampers the process and can be vital in the fast-paced online-gambling sector. The provision of fake IDs would grant the KSA full access to the services of igaming operators, enabling rapid action against illegal entities. 

In the legislative letter were also calls for the laws surrounding the use of data from licensees to be changed. Approved operators are already required to submit a selection of their gaming-systems data to the control database, but this can only then be used for supervision and enforcement, which is limited in its ability to fully protect the player. 

The KSA are hoping to open this up to analysis and research, which will allow it to provide a “solid” factual basis in terms of supervision, enforcement, and policymaking, in turn creating a safer and more competitive market. 

Ongoing concerns
The Netherlands Online Gambling Association (NOGA) recently released the latest edition of its “Online Gaming Barometer.” The publication noted an increase in young people exhibiting problem-gambling behaviours, growing from 8% to 14%, which has been attributed to the distinct rise in players over the last year. 

Statistics like this are a driving factor behind the KSA’s ongoing concerns that were also flagged in the recent government proposals to be considered when crafting future legislation. 

One of the biggest concerns was in relation to the Cruks self-exclusion system and the option for players to be involuntarily added to the register at the request of close relatives or operators. The KSA said the number of players registered in this way is so minimal that there can be no assumption it is actually helping to combat gambling addiction. They also mentioned that the procedure to involuntarily register players is too complicated and that the six-month period for de-registration is too short. 

A safer future?
It’s clear that the KSA are determined to create a safer environment for both existing players and the current influx of new players entering the Dutch market. This was demonstrated recently by the prosecution of Dutch operator BinGoal for not following its regulations and advertisements targeting young adults (18-24 years old) with a 400,000 fine. 

Although the new proposed changes to regulation and ongoing sanctions against operators will, of course, help to keep players better protected, it’s important to note that the KSA have at the same time had to expand their objections department. They’ve appointed two new joint independent chairs to their Objections Advisory Committee just to deal with the significant rise in complaints. This suggests that the market is growing increasingly dissatisfied with the stringent Dutch laws and the KSA must be careful not to over-regulate the market, which will in turn significantly limit the levels of competition and result in a stagnant market. 

It is still early days and the true results of these regulatory changes will not be evident until sometime in the future. In the meantime, the KSA believe, “By tackling these points, KSA will come even closer to a safe and responsible gaming system that properly protects and informs the Dutch player and counteracts abuses”.