Online gambling

Online gambling companies are ‘missing problem gamblers’

Photo: Depositphotos.com

Legal online gambling websites do little to protect problem gamblers and take no steps to prevent people from becoming addicted as required by law, according to a study by the TV news program Pointer.

The government licensed 10 online gambling companies last October in a bid to keep problem gamblers away from illegal websites in the Netherlands. Their number has since grown to 18 and is expected to increase to 25 shortly.

However, Pointer said he spoke to several drug addicts who were allowed to gamble virtually unchallenged despite losing significant sums.

A player, who lost €40,000 on a website, then lost another €15,000 on Toto, a company owned by the state-owned National Lottery Corporation.

Nederlandse Loterij manager Niels Onkenhout told Pointer that the client was allowed to play in the hope that he would become a “recreational player” again. “Otherwise the player would go somewhere else or play illegally,” Onkenhout said.

Another addict told Pointer he lost €70,000 by switching sites and a third said when he quit because he gambled so much the website messaged him asking why he was no longer playing.

Legal Protection Minister Franc Weerwind has already told MPs he plans to take action, but warns there are also privacy issues to consider.

MPs have also called for restrictions on the amount of advertising for online gambling sites.

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