NOGA: Stricter legislation is ‘driving risk players’ to illegal operators

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Nederlandse Online Gambling Associatie, the Dutch online gambling association, believes the Netherlands’ forthcoming legislation is “driving risk players” to illegal providers.

The trade association highlighted the Online Gambling Barometer 2024, the fourth edition of a study conducted by market research agency IPSOS I&O showing the developments and trends of the Netherlands’ online gambling market. 

NOGA initiated the Barometer and has been working with the VNLOK – Licensed Dutch Online Gaming Providers – since this year.

According to the research, 95 per cent of Dutch players who sometimes gamble do so with a licensed online operator, meeting the legislator’s target of 80 per cent.

However, nearly half of risk players – described by NOGA Director Peter-Paul de Goeij as players “who sometimes lie about their gambling behaviour or bet more money than they intended” and are players who “deserve extra protection” – will not show proof of income to gamble online, which the association says is an indication that players are switching to illegal gambling websites.

In addition, the research stated that over 40 per cent of risk players are switching to an operator where a playing limit does not have to be set.

Commenting on the figures, de Goeij said: “95 per cent is a good percentage, but it also means that around 90,000 Dutch people still gamble at illegal casinos. As many as all residents of Heerlen or Hengelo. It is important to reduce the illegal supply as much as possible.

“The upcoming stricter legislation is driving risk players in particular to illegal providers. Risk players are people who sometimes lie about their gambling behaviour or bet more money than they intended. These are players who deserve extra protection. Stricter measures may be counterproductive here.”

The Online Gambling Barometer 2024 also revealed that 68 per cent of players in the Netherlands are unable to tell the difference between legal and illegal gambling offers.

De Goeij noted: “Players often have no idea. This is partly due to the advertising ban on TV, radio and newspapers. If you search on Google, you will immediately end up at dozens of illegal casinos.”

The research also showed for the first time that there has been no growth in the number of online gamblers between the ages of 18 and 34, with half of all Dutch players being in this age group (2023: 60 per cent). The number of risk players in this age group has also remained stable in 2024 following an increase in the previous year.

IPSOS’ study revealed that there has been a small increase in the total number of online players, but this uptick is significantly lower than in other European countries and that Dutch players have not started to gamble more often per year.

Dutch people also believe that online gambling providers are responsible for preventing and identifying problematic gambling behaviour. 

“The protection of players and in particular vulnerable players, such as young adults, is our top priority,” stated Helma Lodders, Chair of the VNLOK.

“Online gambling providers with a license have an important responsibility to prevent and identify risky or problem games as much as possible. Taking a chance should be fun and not lead to problems.”