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Two Dutch gambling trade associations have rejected claims that online casinos intentionally mislead players and encourage excessive gambling.

Consumers’ Association accusations

Earlier this week, the Netherlands’ Consumers’ Association released a statement containing the above claims.

After assessing the operations of bet365, Bet City, Holland Casino, Jacks, Unibet and Toto, the association concluded that “all casinos break the law”.

They said casinos do this by not sufficiently informing players about the terms and conditions of bonuses, advertising free games that are not free at all, or by concealing costs for game options.

The association also claimed that many games have a standard bet amount which is set too high, meaning players can lose more money than intended if they forget to lower the automatically selected stake before playing.

Further, it suggested that wagering conditions for bonuses are not clearly enough set out by operators, and that some offer bonuses to customers unlawfully, as well as sending offers to players who have opted out of receiving them.

“One of the aims of opening up the online gambling market was to prevent gambling addiction and to protect consumers. But nothing comes of it this way,” said Consumers’ Association director Sandra Molenaar.

“Consumers are misled and encouraged to gamble excessively. That is completely irresponsible. And the fact that two state-owned companies are also guilty of this is too insane for words. That is why we have sent a letter to outgoing Minister Weerwind (Legal Protection) and asked him to act,” she concluded.

NOGA and VNLOK respond

Today (27 October) the Dutch Online Gambling Association (NOGA) and another trade association, Licensed Dutch Online Gaming Providers (VNLOK), set out their response to the claims.

The associations “do not recognise the conclusions from the article,” they said, adding that their members are well aware of their obligations to protect consumers from harm.

“Our members act in accordance with laws and regulations. The Gaming Authority supervises this [and] will take action in the event of violations,” the associations added.

They also expressed disappointment at the publication of the article, saying that their members had not been involved with the Consumers’ Association’s research, and that “no rebuttal was requested before publication and no access to the research was given after publication.”

Involving member operators in the study could have helped prevent “obvious inaccuracies in the research,” they added.

“A regulated market requires the right balance between giving providers the opportunity to offer an attractive online gambling offer and protecting vulnerable groups against the risks of online gambling. 

“To achieve that right balance, knowledge of the sector, reliable figures and research are of great importance. This is too often not the case in the current (political) debate. Both trade associations are concerned about this,” NOGA and VNLOK concluded.

The associations also expressed their desire to discuss the research “with all parties involved” in order to continue the discussion on the best ways to protect consumers in the future.

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