NOGA Urges Dutch Kansspelautoriteit to Act on Minors Gambling with Illegal Operators

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Peter-Paul de Goeij, director of the Netherlands Online Gambling Association (NOGA), is calling for a “rigorous” response from Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) after research revealed that illegal operators are allowing minors to gamble. The findings, shared by Keurmerk Responsible Affiliates (KVA) and Licensed Dutch Gaming Providers (VNLOK), highlight a significant issue within the Netherlands’ gambling industry.

Research Findings on Underage Gambling

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The research conducted by KVA uncovered that minors in the Netherlands can easily gamble with offshore operators. The study showed that these operators do not require the necessary age verification, allowing anyone with an email address or telephone number to create an account. This lack of oversight enables those below the legal gambling age of 18 to deposit and gamble, often using cryptocurrency for anonymous transactions.

Further, the study found that illegal casinos use the logos of banks and legal operators to mislead minors into believing that their deposits are safe. This practice is particularly concerning as it exploits the trust and security associated with these financial institutions.

Previous Research and Industry Concerns

KVA’s recent findings build on previous research from 2023, which indicated that illegal sites were targeting players attempting to bypass Cruks, the Netherlands’ self-exclusion scheme. This ongoing issue highlights the need for stringent regulatory measures to protect vulnerable groups from the risks associated with illegal gambling.

De Goeij emphasized the heightened risks for underage gamblers, noting their increased susceptibility to addiction and related mental health and financial problems. He urged the KSA to take decisive action to address these issues and fulfill its mandate to protect consumers.

“The Kansspelautoriteit (KSA), the Dutch Gambling Authority, is expected to address these issues rigorously,” De Goeij told iGB. “The KSA is likely to enhance monitoring and enforcement actions against unlicensed operators, imposing hefty fines and blocking access to these websites. Educating the public, especially minors and their parents, about the risks of unlicensed gambling and how to avoid these sites can be an effective preventive measure.”

Recommendations for KSA Action

De Goeij advocates for increased collaboration between the KSA and other jurisdictions, sharing intelligence and best practices to combat illegal operators. He also suggests that the KSA should work closely with financial institutions to block illegal transactions and cut off revenue streams to offshore operators.

“The KSA should employ advanced technologies like geolocation blocking and AI-driven monitoring to detect and shut down access to offshore gambling platforms,” De Goeij added. “Working with internet service providers (ISPs) to block unlicensed gambling sites could significantly reduce access.”

Broader Issues in the Dutch Gambling Market

The timing of KVA’s research coincides with growing industry concerns over regulatory changes in the Netherlands. Recently, a coalition agreement proposed increasing the gambling tax from 30.5% to 37.8%, aiming to generate an additional €202m in tax revenue. NOGA has expressed concerns that such measures could push operators towards the black market, undermining the regulated market’s integrity.

Earlier this year, the house of representatives voted to ban “high-risk” gambling, including online slots, and to prohibit online gambling advertising. These regulatory changes, combined with higher taxes, could drive more players to unlicensed sites, where consumer protections are minimal.

De Goeij is particularly worried about the potential impact on the legal market, warning that higher taxes and advertising restrictions might reduce revenue for the Dutch government and legal operators. This shift could lead to increased fraud, addiction, and other harms associated with unregulated gambling.

NOGA’s Strategic Recommendations

To combat the potential rise of the black market, De Goeij recommends that the KSA and the government adopt evidence-based regulations that do not overly burden legal operators. He believes that encouraging innovation and improving customer experiences in the legal market can help retain and attract players.

“The KSA and the government should encourage innovation and better customer experiences in the legal market to retain and attract players,” De Goeij said. “They should also be continuously researching market trends and player behavior to adapt regulations and strategies dynamically. Only by taking a proactive and balanced approach, the Netherlands can protect its citizens while maintaining a robust and attractive legal gambling market.”

Source: “NOGA urges rigorous KSA response after research finds illegal operators accepting bets from minors”iGaming Business, May 23, 2024.

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