Underage Gambling is Rife in the Netherlands

The regulator in the Netherlands, the Kansspelautoriteit (KSA), has revealed statistics that suggest more than 1 in 10 16 to 17-year-olds have gambled in the last year. These troubling findings were revealed by a survey performed by the KSA in which they surveyed three separate age groups of those under the age of 30 to determine the gambling habits of younger generations in Holland.

The façade of a building in Amsterdam on the canal.

The results of the recent survey performed by the KSA indicate that more needs to be done to prevent underage gambling in the country, particularly in relation to the use of scratch cards and slot machines by minors. ©millionairemob/Pixabay

The most popular form of gambling for underage gamblers (16-17 years old) was found to be scratch cards. The findings of the KSA indicated that 11% of this underage demographic was partaking in the instant-win form of gambling.

This figure did not differ too significantly from the same statistic that was unearthed by the 2016 survey but represents a rise nonetheless. In 2016, the KSA reported that 10% of the 16-17 year old demographic was gambling in this manner.

The regulator did warn against any direct comparisons between these two studies. According to the KSA, the data was collected in different ways in 2016 and 2020 and, as such, any increases could not be considered a significant change unless there was around a 5% difference in the findings.

The second most popular gambling product amongst minors in the Netherlands were physical slot machines, which were closely followed by lottery tickets. These forms of gambling were played by 8% and 7% of the underage demographic respectively. On top of these, 5% reported that they had gambled on sporting events and 2% had gambled on esports.

Betting on horse racing was not reported by any of the survey’s respondents.

In addition to these more traditional forms of gambling, those aged between 16 and 17 also showed an affinity for loot box mechanics used in some games. These mechanics are currently banned by the gambling legislation of the Netherlands, however, 8% of underage respondents reported buying them. In addition, 5% also reported playing online casino games.

Another section of the survey asked participants whether they had previously attempted to gamble but had been asked to verify their age or had been refused access. Of those who had attempted to buy scratch cards whilst being underage, just 5% were asked to provide identification. Even more damning was that for slot machines, this figure was just 1%.

Of those that had attempted to purchase tickets for the national lottery whilst underage, 7% had been refused. For all the other lotteries in the country, this figure was 6%.

Why are Young People Gambling?

When the KSA reported the findings of its study, it emphasized the results that revealed the lack of age control on those who are playing slot machines and buying scratch cards. According to the regulator, a relatively large number of minors are allowed into gambling premises compared to the figures for those who had been refused entry.

As a result of these worrying findings, the KSA has made a clear commitment to being more vigilant over those it grants licenses to in the future. The authority will, from now on, ensure operators and service providers ask for proof of age more regularly and reliably.

The reason that the KSA gave for the high incidence of minors reporting the use of scratch cards was likely that older people were buying them and giving them to underage people. The KSA also stated that restaurants hosting gaming machines had been particularly loose with regards to verifying the age of players.

Of the underage gamblers who had used slot machines, 69% had done so in restaurants, and 31% had made use of gaming arcades.

The Risk of Gambling Addiction in Minors

Included in the survey was a section made up of two questions that aimed to determine the risk of players developing gambling problems. The questions asked whether the participants had ever lied to a loved one about their gambling behavior and whether they had felt compelled to gamble more money to get a positive emotional response.

Of the minors that were surveyed, just 2% responded to these questions confirming that this was indeed the case.

Results for Other Age Groups

The focus of the study was not just the gambling habits of minors, but all groups under the age of 30. For those aged between 18 and 23 years old, 44% of them had previously bought a lottery ticket for the national lottery in the country. In this age bracket, this was the most popular form of gambling.

In contrast to minors, scratch cards are not very popular in this age group. Just 3% of participants in the survey reported that they had played such games. Slot machines did prove popular in this group, however, as 17% reported using them.

Those aged 18-23 didn’t have significantly higher use of loot boxes and casino games than minors, as 8% and 6% respectively used these services.

From these data, the KSA concluded that an age limit on gambling is a good system that works if it is implemented and policed strictly. This is because of the significant increase in the number playing the games once they are of age can be attributed to checking age before players can participate in games.

The average monthly spend for those aged 18-23 was €31 per month.

The final age group surveyed was those aged 24-30. This group saw 58% reporting playing the national state lottery and 27% admitting to buying scratch cards. Of this demographic, 16% had played slot machines and just 4% made use of online casino services. In this group, 3% had played online poker.

This age group had an average monthly spend of €32.30.

This study from the KSA has come after the recent news that the regulated iGaming market in the Netherlands is due to be delayed further. The launch date had previously been pushed back by six months to the 1st of July 2021 but the wait may be longer by several months as a result of the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

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