Survey Highlights Risks of Online Gambling Ban in the Netherlands

Back Survey Highlights Risks of Online Gambling Ban in the Netherlands

A recent survey has stirred the waters in the Dutch online gambling community, highlighting a potential crisis if a ban on online gambling is enforced. The Online Gaming Barometer 2024, an annual survey conducted by the Netherlands Online Gambling Association (NOGA), sheds light on the repercussions such a ban could have on gamblers, particularly those at risk.

Decrease in Problem Gamblers, But Challenges Remain

The survey, by Ipsos, reveals a slight decline in the number of problem gamblers in the Netherlands. In 2024, 39% of gamblers were classified as problem players, down from 42% in 2023. Problem gamblers were identified based on behaviors like lying about gambling activities or feeling compelled to gamble more frequently. While this decrease is a positive sign, the challenges for player protection remain substantial.

One of the most concerning findings from the survey is the potential shift of players to illegal gambling sites if legal options are banned. A significant 47% of at-risk gamblers indicated that they would turn to illegal providers if their current legal platforms were no longer available. Even among all gamblers, 37% expressed a willingness to switch to illegal sites, and this figure was 31% among no-risk players. These statistics highlight a looming threat: stricter regulations could inadvertently drive players into unregulated, potentially dangerous environments.

’’ When asked if they would switch to an illegal provider if their current legal provider was banned, some 47% of at-risk players agreed.’’

Within the at-risk group, nearly half (48%) stated they would switch providers if required to show proof of income, and 41% would move to different providers if they reached their monetary limits. These insights suggest that stringent measures, while intended to protect, might push gamblers towards less secure options.

The Netherlands boasts a high channelization rate, with 95% of gamblers using legal providers, significantly above the target of 80%. However, NOGA warns that this impressive rate is at risk if the legal sector faces a crackdown. Unlicensed operators, who evade gambling taxes and regulatory oversight, could lure away established players, undermining efforts to maintain a safe gambling environment.

Key Findings from the Dutch Gambling Survey

The survey included responses from 2,806 Dutch adults, offering a comprehensive overview of gambling behaviors and perceptions. It revealed that 16% of Dutch adults gambled online last year, up from 13% in 2023 and 11% in 2022. The highest participation rate was among young adults aged 18-34, with 29% reporting online gambling activity.

Tighter advertising regulations seem to be making a dent in the visibility of gambling ads. While 72% of Dutch people still encounter gambling advertisements, this is a decrease from 80% in 2022. Despite this, most players reportedly stick to licensed providers, although two-thirds of respondents admitted they could not easily identify unlicensed operators.

When it comes to player protection, a monthly playing limit per person emerged as the most trusted measure. On the other hand, self-imposed "gambling freezes" were the least trusted. These findings highlight the need for effective and trusted player protection strategies.

Ipsos, based on the survey findings, proposed two essential steps to enhance Dutch gambling regulations. Their first recommendation was to identify potentially risky gaming behaviors to prevent addiction. Second, they urged a critical review of online gambling advertising for responsible marketing practices.

These survey results come amid growing concerns about increased regulation and its impact on the gambling industry. A proposed increase in the gambling tax from 30.5% to 37.8% is expected to generate an additional €202 million for the state treasury. However, NOGA has voiced concerns that such changes could push operators and players toward the black market.

During this year, the House of Representatives passed a bill to forbid "high-risk" gambling, including online slots. Minister Franc Weerwind will assess these proposed legal amendments, alongside the House's prior ban on untargeted online gambling advertisements enacted in 2023.

The potential ban on online gambling in the Netherlands presents a complex challenge. While the intention is to protect players, there is a significant risk that such measures could drive gamblers toward illegal, unregulated sites. This shift could undermine the efforts to create a safe and regulated gambling environment. As the Dutch government considers these changes, it is crucial to strike a balance that safeguards legal gambling while preventing the growth of the black market.

Source:

''Dutch gambling changes could see at-risk players switch to illegal operators''igamingbusiness.com, May 28, 2024.

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