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Dutch gambling laws could lead to players switching from legal operators to illicit ones

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According to a recent survey, if online gambling is banned in the Netherlands, almost half of players at risk will switch to illegal casinos.

According to the Online Gaming Barometer 2024 – an annual study of Dutch gambling conducted by Netherlands Online Gambling Association, (NOGA), there has been a decline in high-risk gamblers as a percentage of all players. It is claimed that the player protection may be compromised if proposals are made to raise taxes or further restrict online slot games.

Ipsos’ survey found that 39% of gambling problem gamblers in 2024, compared with 42% in the year 2023, were considered to be problematic players. Ipsos surveyed considered gamblers problem players when they lied about their gambling or felt the need to wager more.

Dutch players could shift to illegal gambling sites

In response to the question of whether they would change their legal provider in case it was prohibited, 47% agreed. Just 25% of this cohort were in disagreement. This number is 37% for all risk players, and 31% for no-risk players.

In the group at risk, 48% of those surveyed said that they would change providers if required to provide proof of their income. Fourteen percent (41%) said that they would change providers if their playing limits were reached.

NOGA warns that with channelisation rates at 95 percent – far above the target of 80 percent – a crackdown on legal sites would only drive players away from licensed sites. They do not pay any gambling tax and will not alter their offer regardless of changes to Dutch legislation.

Peter-Paul de Goeij, Director at NOGA, said that “95% of Dutch gamblers still play at illegal casinos.”

It is vital to limit the supply of illegal goods as much as possible. A new, stricter law is encouraging risk players to use illegal services. Risk players lie or wager more than intended. They are the players that deserve additional protection. “Stricter measures could be counterproductive in this case.”

The Dutch Gambling Survey: What other findings did it reveal?

The study interviewed 2,806 Dutch adults aged 18 and over. The study asked them questions on topics like gambling awareness and participation. Advertising, channelisation, and gambling addiction prevention were also covered.

The survey found that one out of six Dutch gambled online in the past year (16%). The number of online players has increased for the second consecutive year, from 13% in 2023 to 11% in 2020. The share of young adults between 18 and 34 years old is the same as in previous year.

NOGA’s survey revealed that the tightening of advertising regulations appears to have some impact. While nearly three quarters (72%) of Dutchpeople sometimes view advertising, that number is down on 2022 when it was 80%.

Nearly all players say that they only play with licensed providers, despite the fact that two thirds don’t know how to identify an unlicensed operator.

A self-imposed gambling freeze is not the best option for protecting players.

Dutch Gambling Policy Recommendations

Ipsos, following the study, made two recommendations for improving Dutch gambling policies. First, identify potentially addictive gaming behavior to avoid addiction. Second, a close look at online gambling advertising.

Ipsos said that the Dutch believe it is the provider’s responsibility to identify risk actors. Take this additional responsibility and role seriously. Identify risky behaviours that can be prevented. “Identifying the risk group and taking timely action to stop gambling addiction”

Ipsos stated that it is possible some advertising providers are not following the rules. Be sure that your affiliates comply with the online advertising rules, or else you may face further restrictions.

This survey is conducted amid industry concerns about increased regulation and its potential impact on the black market.

In a coalition deal signed earlier this month, the tax on gambling was raised from 30.5% to 37.8%. This would result in an extra EUR202m ($219.6m/PS173.3m) for the state Treasury. NOGA expressed its concern that these changes could push operators to the black market.

This tax increase follows the vote by the House of Representatives earlier in this year to ban gambling with “high risk”, including online slot machines. The Netherlands Minister for Legal Protection Franc Weerwind is now reviewing the proposed law and will make a final decision.

House also passed a bill to prohibit online gambling advertisements. Untargeted ads were already prohibited by law in 2023.

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