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Dutch regulator prepares crackdown on gambling and social casino apps

Dutch gambling regulator the Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) is stepping up its investigation into gambling apps illegally targeting customers in the country, as well as preparing an investigation into the potential dangers posed to minors by social casino apps.

An initial assessment carried out by the KSA at the end of April found that 49 illegal real-money gaming apps can be downloaded in the Netherlands, with the authority now planning to monitor these products under the new investigation.

With no specific iGaming legislation yet in effect in the Netherlands, all forms of online gambling are currently considered illegal. Gaming companies are therefore required to remove all real-money apps from app stores – if the app store has not done so already – and remove links and references to these products from their websites, the regulator said.

The KSA’s new investigation will monitor whether operators are complying with this requirement, with the possibility of enforcement action against operators who fail to comply.

Apps, and by extension mobile gaming, have become a key concern for the Dutch regulator, which notes that the use of apps for gambling is “increasing substantially” compared to gaming via PCs and laptops.

“The KSA advises consumers not to play via illegal gambling apps and to withdraw their funds from these operators,” the regulator said. “The KSA cannot help consumers once this action results in their money no longer being accessible via the apps.”

While the new investigation will initially focus on real-money gambling apps, the KSA plans to expand its scope to also assess the potential dangers of social casino apps.

It points to Australian research which suggests that exposing children to “games which simulate gambling” may result in problem gambling habits later in life.

“Not only are these types of games freely available to minors, but they can also be downloaded for free.

“The combination of this low threshold for accessibility and the larger risk for minors has given cause for the KSA to investigate these gambling apps in depth in the coming months.”

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