Date: 09.07.2024

by Sebastian Warowny

Dutch Gambling Addiction on the Rise

The Netherlands is witnessing a worrying rise in gambling, according to a new report by market analyst LADIS. The study highlights a 24.2% year-on-year increase in gambling addiction in 2023. In response, the Dutch government plans to implement stricter player protection measures from 1 October.

Gambling Addiction: Navigating the Path of Responsible Gambling

Alarming Increase in Gambling

The study summarises the different levels of problematic consumer behaviour, covering the rate of abuse of various substances, as well as excessive gambling, over the period between 2018 and 2023. Categorising the harm levels based on cause and percentage across the population, LADIS found that gambling holds fifth place in terms of problem behaviour, gripping 3.8% of Dutch citizens.

First is alcohol with 44.9%, followed by cannabis (15.3%), cocaine (12.3%), and opiate abuse (11.8%).

Still, in 2023 problem gambling had by far the biggest growth rate YoY compared to all other categories, jumping by 24.2% when matched against the numbers from 2022. “This increase is also visible among the institutions that supplied data throughout the period,” LADIS commented.

Detailed Breakdown of Addiction Statistics

The second specified category of abuse was medicine with 11.9%, while the percentage under the unspecified group, i.e., “other behavioural disorders,” was anchored at 14.6%. Based on data submitted from problem gambling treatment centres, 54% of people who asked for support have also struggled with gambling before, while 46% were admitted to treatment for the first time.

Divided by gender, the overwhelming majority (88%) are men, while 75% are between the ages of 25 and 55. A total of 17% have said to be under 25. Moreover, 44% of those facing harmful gambling have also been found to have a substance abuse disorder, with alcoholism (44%) being the most widely spread among problem gamblers. No secondary disorder was found in the remaining 56% of the cases.

Out of all the types of gambling, online gaming has seen the biggest increase in customer activity between 2018 and 2023. The sector has grown at a particularly quick pace since 2021, when a new regulated market was launched under the Remote Gambling Act (KOA Act). “Although the location of gambling is rarely registered, among those where this is known, there has been an increase in online gambling in particular,” LADIS concluded.

Upcoming KOA Regime Reforms

The Netherlands is currently in the process of reforming the KOA Regime, which is set to enforce stricter player protection measures from 1 October, including affordability checks, in-game warnings and greater one-to-one customer care interventions. So far, the reform was spearheaded by Franc Weerwind, who used to be the Legal Protections Minister from 2022 before the position, together with Weerwind, was removed under the newly-formed Schoof cabinet.

Weerwind’s duties will be headed by Teun Struycken, who will take on the role of a State Secretary to oversee the gambling sector once the updated KOA policies are in place.

NOGA’s Response and Commitment to Responsible Gambling

In reaction to a recent study by the National Alcohol and Drugs Information System (LADIS) that revealed a worrying increase in the number of people seeking treatment for gambling addiction, the Dutch Online Gambling Association (NOGA) has released a statement.

The LADIS survey indicates a significant increase in the number of patients undergoing treatment for gambling addiction. This number increased to 2,456 people in 2023 from 1,920 in 2022. This increase has been attributed to the growth of reporting institutions; however, some providers already in place have also seen a minor increase in cases. Four percent of cases requiring addiction treatment now have a connection to gambling.

Eric Konings, acting director of NOGA, expressed concern over the findings, noting that while the rise can be partly attributed to increased reporting, it underscores the need for vigilance. “Gambling should be a safe and enjoyable activity for all Dutch citizens,” Konings emphasized. “The fact that 2,456 individuals sought help is concerning. However, it’s important to interpret these figures cautiously, as there’s often a delay before individuals seek addiction care.”

Konings also highlighted the lack of distinction between gambling problems stemming from legal and illegal online platforms, calling for clearer data to facilitate informed discussions on tackling gambling addiction effectively. Despite these challenges, NOGA remains dedicated to promoting responsible gambling practices in collaboration with AGOG, ensuring a safe online gambling environment for all.

The association continues to advocate for transparency and accountability within the industry, emphasizing the importance of responsible gambling initiatives to mitigate the risks associated with gambling addiction. As NOGA navigates these challenges, its commitment to fostering a secure and regulated online gambling market in the Netherlands remains steadfast.