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The Dutch gaming authority has reiterated a desire to heighten protection for children after René Jansen, Chair of the Kansspelautoriteit, reflected on a recent meeting with directors of Family Entertainment Centers Netherlands.

The company, which represents approximately 90 per cent of the amusement centre sector, had previously stressed a desire to see its arcade halls solely feature machines with skill games.

This, it was added, meant that “there is no longer room for slot machines with games of chance”. Ksa concern was raised due to referrals of such venues as “children’s casinos”.

“The reason was that research by the Ksa had shown that there were machines in the centres that look very similar to gambling machines,” said Jansen in his latest blog entry.

“The only difference between machines in the slot machine halls and those in the arcade halls was that sometimes cash came out of the first and chips or receipts that could be exchanged for (smaller) vouchers or prizes in kind from the second.”

With the Betting and Gaming Act making an exception for these machines due to the risk of developing gambling addiction in such places being considered small, Jansen added that this brings a main disadvantage of proper supervision not being possible.

“The Ksa was particularly concerned that more and more permanent arcade halls were popping up in city centres. Where a minimum age of 18 years applies in slot machine halls (and sometimes 21 years, depending on the APV), minors are allowed to enter the amusement centres,” he continued.

“However, it cannot be the intention that minors come into contact with gambling. As you know, the brains of minors are still developing. This makes them particularly prone to developing gambling addiction, either immediately or later in life.”

Talks between the two parties had previously led to a promise that machines that do not predominantly require skill would be removed in phases, with a vow also issued to ensure such elements are not used by minors.

“Members of FEC Nederland are subject to an annual audit to check compliance with the agreements,” Jansen concluded.

“Suppliers and non-members of FEC Nederland have been made aware of the development that has been initiated and are encouraged to go along with it. For example, producers are encouraged to make or convert ‘skill-based’ games (based on dexterity).

“I have seen with my own eyes that the industry is working on the turnaround. A conscious decision was made to make a real ‘business case’ of entertaining (among other things) children with games of skill. 

“The Ksa remains in favour of removing the exceptional regime for fairground machines from the law, as we previously informed the Minister for Legal Protection (gambling policy). 

“In the meantime, it is good that an important part of the industry is moving in the right direction of its own accord.”