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René Jansen, chair of the Netherlands Gaming Authority (KSA), has defended the regulator’s ability to effectively supervise the gambling sector while calling for improved consumer protection measures.

Jansen revealed in an interview with Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant that he has “mixed feelings” about the Dutch gambling regulations.

Due to the current legal and regulatory set-up, Jansen stressed players have been able to gamble away large amounts of money where this should not have been possible.

Jansen has repeatedly called for stricter consumer protection measures in the Netherlands.

He said that although Dutch law states that operators have a “duty of care”, which means they need to ensure that players do not lose exorbitant amounts, they do not always act adequately when players show problem gambling behaviour.

Abstract regulations

He acknowledged that while there are numerous regulations that gambling companies must adhere to, they are often formulated in a very abstract and non-specific manner.

He called for more clear and defined boundaries in these regulations to better prevent incidents from occurring and to make it easier for operators to take appropriate actions if necessary.

Jansen also pointed out that the regulator is only able to review data retrospectively and cannot observe what is happening on a site in real-time.

Fines versus penalties

When challenged on why the the KSA was still to issue any fines for operators ignoring problematic gambling behaviour, Jansen said this was due to the high burden of proof and the resistance of gambling companies and their legal teams.

Everything the KSA does is subject to intense scrutiny and legal challenges, said the chair. However, he also revealed that the KSA has frequently threatened to impose penalties in the past year.

For example, during the last World Cup, this happened 20 times, either because operators used role models in their commercials, which has been banned since last summer, or because companies advertised on social media while the competition was ongoing.

Collecting penalty payments

He also revealed that the KSA is currently working on collecting the first penalty payments from licensed operators. However, because the procedures are still ongoing, he was not able to disclose further information.

Moreover, Jansen said that penalties are an effective way of controlling the sector while the process of imposing a fine can be a lengthy and drawn-out procedure.

It can take anywhere from four to five years, from the start of the investigation to a final appeal, according to Jansen, although suggested this would not stop the KSA from imposing fines in the future.

Introducing hard player limits

Jansen, who has also lobbied for the introduction of player limits as a means of preventing excessive losses, remains convinced the Netherlands can learn from other countries such as Germany, Norway and Belgium in this regard.

However, he also pointed out that many gambling companies in the Netherlands already work with adjusted player limits for 18 to 24-year-olds, due to that demographic’s vulnerability.

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