Legal online gambling websites are doing little to protect problematic gamblers and are not taking action to prevent people from becoming addicted as required to do so by law, according to research by television current affairs show Pointer.
The government licenced 10 online gambling companies last October with the aim of attracting compulsive gamblers away from websites which are illegal in the Netherlands. Their number has since risen to 18 and is set to increase to 25 shortly.
However, Pointer said it has spoken to several gambling addicts who were allowed to play virtually unchallenged despite losing large sums. One gambler, who lost €40,000 on one website went on to lose a further €15,000 on Toto, a company belonging to the state-owned national lottery company.
Nederlandse Loterij director Niels Onkenhout told Pointer that the client had been allowed to play on in the hope that he would become a ‘recreational gambler’ again. ‘Otherwise the player would go elsewhere or play illegally,’ Onkenhout said.
Another addict told Pointer he had lost €70,000 by switching between sites and a third said that when he stopped because he was playing so much, the website sent him a message asking him why he was no longer playing.
Legal protection minister Franc Weerwind has already told MPs that he plans to take action, but warns there are also privacy issues to take into account. MPs have also called for curbs on the amount of advertising for online gambling sites.