CDA’s gambling advertising ban falls short in Dutch parliament

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The Christian Democratic Appeal party’s push to ban all gambling advertising in the Netherlands has fallen short, as the Dutch parliament voted against the party’s mandate. 

Led by CDA MP Derk Boswijk, the mandate pushed for a blanket ban on all Dutch gambling advertising to form part of the upcoming safer gambling amendments to the Remote Gambling Act (KOA Act).

Unfortunately for the CDA, the mandate fell narrowly short of a 76-vote majority in the House of Representatives, with support from 70 out of 150 MPs not enough to get it over the line. 

However, Dutch ministers within the Kamer (parliament) agreed that ‘overarching playing limits’ must be included in the ongoing amendments to the KOA Act.

The CDA’s proposal had support from various parties, including ChristenUnie, Socialist Party, New Social Contract, and the SGP.

Three mandates related to amending the KOA Act were voted in the House, aiming to reshape the Act which has governed the Netherlands’ online gambling market since its October 2021 launch.

Despite the advertising ban’s failure, the House did approve a mandate proposed by ChristenUnie party leader Mirjam Bikker to impose “overarching playing limits” as a new consumer protection measure for the KOA market, gaining a 79-vote majority. 

As an outspoken critic of the KOA regime, Bikker has urged the imposition of a ‘universal loss limit’ across all 27 licensed operators “without the possibility of offering customers an increase.”

Ahead of the vote, Minister for Legal Protections, Franc Weerwind, rejected ChristenUnie’s mandate, arguing that financial risk checks had been incorporated into the forthcoming amendments.

Challenged with managing the KOA amendments, Minister Weerwind recommended that the House approve compulsory financial risk checks for player accounts spending over €350 in a single month.

Although it has yet to be voted on, Minister Weerwind insists that the KOA market will introduce a loss limit, applying a €150 spending restriction on the gambling accounts of customers under the age of 24.

The approval of ChristenUnie’s mandate by the House suggests a possible conflict with Minister Weerwind’s proposed amendments to the KOA Act.

Bikker has called on Minister Weerwind to “rethink the design of Dutch online gambling protections” and to implement a fixed loss limit on KOA operators by the end of 2024.

Acknowledging that the vote was passed without Weerwind’s approval, Bikker stated to the House: “Yes, Chairman, you can already guess: the motion was passed despite the minister advising against it. I would very much like a response from the minister before the Games of Chance committee debate on how he intends to implement it.”

The Kamer’s final vote endorsed the mandate of Socialist Party MP Michiel van Nispen to impose stricter financial penalties for online gambling violations. 

Van Nispen has proposed fines of 10 per cent of turnover for gambling companies that violate KOA regulations, which received the support of 102 MPs.

Van Nispen noted: “The SP wants serious fines and measures against those bad gambling companies. As far as we are concerned, a warning is followed by a fine, and one that really hurts, for example, 10 per cent of turnover. In our opinion, permits should also be revoked in the event of recidivism.

“Has that ever happened, the withdrawal of a permit? I do not think so. As far as we’re concerned: end of story for the cowboys without morals.”