“Only with cooperation and an open dialogue beyond our own agendas can we improve the care that is needed for people with a gambling addiction,” emphasised René Jansen, Chair of the Ksa, in the opening address of this week’s Amsterdam Gambling & Awareness Congress.
Despite acknowledging that an increase in players numbers upon legalisation hasn’t been witnessed, Jansen has called for additional collaboration as well as vowing to continue to take action across various areas.
Opening up his address, the Chair of the Ksa, which has been in existence for ten years, first reaffirmed a trifecta of core objectives. These being protecting consumers, preventing gambling addiction and combatting illegality and crime.
“Gambling addictions are too often still a hidden addiction,” Jansen noted on the former. “The announcement of this conference spoke of ‘a blind spot’. And you can’t fix what you don’t see.
“While the consequences of gambling addiction can be very serious and far-reaching. Both financially and socially and spiritually. And not only for the person who is struggling with the addiction, but also for the family and loved ones.”
“The reality is that the Remote Gambling Act allows us to exert more influence on this prevention”
Here, an increase in knowledge and understanding, driven by increased collaboration in a bid to prevent gambling addiction was called for. “I really see that cooperation as essential,” Jansen noted.
Continuing: “The Gaming Authority also has an important role to play in this prevention, a role that we take very seriously.
“Now I hear you thinking; ‘But aren’t you also the ones who issue licences to gambling providers, so that more people come into contact with gambling?’ That’s a question I often get, and one I understand.
“It may seem contradictory at first glance; on the one hand, our legislation allows more companies to legally offer games of chance, and on the other hand, insist on addiction prevention.
“The reality is that the Remote Gambling Act allows us to exert more influence on this prevention through our supervision of licensees. And that we can also keep providers who do not do enough about prevention from the market.”
Acknowledging the legalisation has accelerated the discussion about safe gaming and the prevention of addiction, Jansen pointed to a “strict and extensive assessment” to permit licensees.
“What I don’t think anyone will have missed is the discussion and annoyance that quickly arose about the amount of advertising”
The jurisdiction currently has 24 permitted entities, the latest to join the party being TonyBet, however, it is noted that regarding the amount of players “this number doesn’t seem to have really increased compared to the earlier illegal period”. There are 563,000 accounts being played, with many players reported as having multiple.
“So much for the numbers,” he continued. “What have we seen in terms of developments since the opening of the online gambling market?
“What I don’t think anyone will have missed is the discussion and annoyance that quickly arose about the amount of advertising. We’ve all seen them, I think; the signs along the highway and the many commercials on TV.
“But there was also discussion about the question of whether the playing limits are restrictive enough, and whether the duty of care of providers is adequately implemented.
“The opening up of the market and the number of providers trying to secure a place on the market often leads to a kind of ‘overkill’ in such an initial phase, before normalisation takes place.
“That is why there has been and will be intervention in various areas, both by the Minister and by the Ksa.”
“Gambling addictions are too often still a hidden addiction”
This sees Jansen point to World Cup interventions based on the use of role models within advertisement, as well as warning issued regarding cashback bonuses and anti-money laundering violations.
Regarding the legal task of promoting addiction prevention, Jansen highlighted the “various ways in which we shape this task,” which includes supervision of duty of care, the Cruks self exclusion scheme and addiction prevention fund.
Furthermore, the importance of working in a targeted manner, in addition to coordinating the role of the Ksa through structured consultations between stakeholders are also highlighted.
“And that also brings me to an appeal to you, ladies and gentlemen, about the point I started with, which is the importance of cooperation,” Jansen concluded.
“I hope that this day will make an important contribution to that. Because only with cooperation and an open dialogue beyond our own agendas can we improve the care that is needed for people with a gambling addiction.
“And above all: prevent addiction as much as possible. That is what I am committed to as Ksa chairman, and I know you are too.”