Proposed changes to the gaming industries in both Norway and the Netherlands would do little to create more robust markets. Greater restrictions threaten to increase the search for unlicensed gaming operators.
Responsible gaming is a noble concept that all countries strive to enforce. Combatting the possibility of gambling addiction is at the forefront of all regulations. However, sometimes, regulators can push the envelope a little too much and break the systems they are trying to protect.
Norway and the Netherlands are both facing changes to their gaming industries. Proposed regulations aren’t likely to have the desired effect, with diminished gaming capacities possibly coming to both markets.
Norway Wants Less Gaming Options
In Norway, Norsk Tipping already controls the market through a monopoly. This hasn’t resulted in strong results, however, with studies already showing that more Norwegians are turning to black-market alternatives.
Instead of working to embrace more options, the country’s gaming regulator, Lotteri-og Stiftelsestilsynet, thinks there should be fewer. It views the current market as a “success,” and feels that fewer options will make it even better.
As a result, Norsk Tipping could introduce new measures to reduce gaming activity and turnover through its Kongkasino casino brand. Already, there is a monthly loss limit of NOK5,000 (US$545) in place for certain “at-risk” customers.
The company implemented the loss limit at the request of the regulator last September, dropping it from the previous NOK10,000 (US$1,117). Lotteri-og Stiftelsestilsynet now wants the same for Oddsen, Norsk Tipping’s sports betting arm, although the amount may be different.
The University of Bergen conducted a study in 2020 that showed that Norway’s problem gambling rate is high. It has risen steadily for more than seven years, countering the argument that maintaining a monopoly reduces gambling harm.
Norway is in the process of implementing controls, including payment blocking rules, to prevent offshore gambling. However, despite introducing payment blocking rules in 2020, there has not been a significant decrease in the use of unlicensed sites.
Dutch Market Poised for Extreme Lockdown
Loss limits, stake limits and time limits are hot topics for gaming regulators. In the Netherlands, one lawmaker believes that stake and time limits are the solution to problem gambling. However, he wants to take the concept to a new extreme.
Instead of setting stake and time limits at the operator level, Dutch Minister for Legal Protection Franc Weerwind wants them at the market level. In other words, limits would apply across all operators. If there’s a daily limit of two hours, consumers can’t reset the clock by switching to another platform.
Under the current regulations, consumers are responsible for establishing limits when they create their online gambling accounts. That doesn’t always work, according to the Dutch gaming regulator, since some operators allow limits that are too high.
Establishing across-the-board limits could help solve that problem. Alternatively, Weerwind is considering a measure that would place a maximum amount on the limits that are already in place.
The legislator is showing a common-sense approach to advertising, however. Amid calls for a complete ban on gambling advertising, he points out that “some form of advertising” is necessary so consumers recognize the difference between legal and illegal platforms.
However, as he is guiding more research into the topic, he admits that he could support the implementation of “further restrictions on advertising for high-risk games of chance as soon as possible.” This could include advertising blackouts for the online sector, similar to those in place for land-based gambling now.
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