Dutch and UK Gambling Officials Discuss State of Gambling in Their Countries

In a recent conversation between the outgoing CEO of the UK Gambling Commission, Sarah Harrison, and the Director of the Dutch Gaming Authority, Marja Appelman (pictured left), the two gambling officials exchanged important insights into the gambling industries of their countries and reiterated their commitment to future cooperation.

Kansspelautoriteit revealed in a statement on its official website some of the main topics Ms. Harrison and Ms. Appelman discussed during their recent conversation. The prevention of minors from participating in gambling activities was among the most important such topics. The two gambling officials agreed that the gambling regulators of the both countries as well as industry stakeholders have a lot more to do in order to protect this most vulnerable group of the population.

The recent release of the Star Wars Battlefront II video game created huge controversy both in the video gaming and gambling realms. The game offered players the opportunity to buy the so-called loot boxes, the contents of which boxes became clear after their purchase. Multiple gambling regulators from different jurisdictions argued that the purchase of such boxes represented a form of gambling.

Both the UK Gambling Commission and the Dutch Gaming Authority took a stance in the issue. UK’s gambling regulator did not see loot boxes as representation of gambling, while Kansspelautoriteit took a rather opposite stance. However, both regulators’ top officials agreed that loot boxes in video games should be monitored cautiously, so that children are prevented from being exposed to anything that could constitute gambling.

Social casino games and the risks they could pose to vulnerable players were also discussed by the two gambling officials. They shared the opinion that while games of this type did not constitute gambling in their essence, they still could encourage players to eventually switch to real-money games.

Legality of Online Gambling and International Cooperation

Ms. Appelman presented her colleague with information about the ongoing process of re-regulation of the Netherlands’ gambling market. Unlike in the UK, where online gambling is the largest gambling sector, it is currently illegal in the Netherlands. The Remote Gaming Bill, approved by the Dutch Lower House in 2016, is yet to be considered by the Senate and is expected to eventually take effect in early 2019.

The Dutch Gaming Authority announced the Double Dialogues initiative last summer, encouraging its fellow gambling regulators from other European countries to engage and commit to cooperation. Thirteen member states have already supported the initiative, and the United Kingdom has been among these.

In their recent conversation, Ms. Harrison, who is set to leave her CEO post at the UK Gambling Commission in February, told Ms. Appelman that international cooperation between regulators is extremely important, as it could help in solving gambling-related disputes, penalizing erring operators, and protecting players from falling victims to such operators and to any other gambling-related issues.

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