Gaming in Holland 2016 took place today in Amsterdam at the trendy Tobacco Theatre, right in the heart of the city. This is the premier (albeit the only, according to organizer Willem van Oort) event dedicated to the Dutch land based and online gambling industry, therefore an absolute must-attend for anyone working in this market.
Originally, this year’s edition of Gaming in Holland was scheduled to take place shortly after a Parliamentary debate regarding remote gambling legislation, however Parliament made a last minute decision to postpone the debate until June 20th, 2016. Despite the unfortunate timing, the government’s recent decision to grant several more casino licenses brought the attendee numbers back up for van Oort and team.
Gaming in Holland 2016 featured a series of sessions and panels addressing topics such as the privatization and future of Holland Casino, responsible gaming, funding of sports and charities and sports betting in The Netherlands. Throughout the day delegates were treated to tea and coffee breaks, a networking lunch, concluding drinks, a canal cruise and a dinner at Jamie Oliver’s restaurant FIFTEEN.
The Responsible Gaming panel was inspiring, especially considering two of the panelists were recovered gambling addicts, Jessica Broekhuis and Feite Hofman, both dedicating their time and experience to educate the industry and those at risk. Other panelists included Floor van Bakkum, a senior prevention expert at Jellinek and Yvon Jansma of the Center for Responsible Gaming.
Broekhuis has written a book on her recovery from gambling addiction and is dedicated to educating people on gambling and its risks from a young age. “Online gambling is the perfect vehicle for addition”, she said, although she also emphasized gambling is a fun activity for those who know their limits and she is not “anti-gambling” in any way.
When asked if regulation of iGaming in Holland will help prevent problem online gamblers, Broekhuis warned “regulation can provide a dark illusion of prevention” and said “I believe in prevention at a very young age starting in schools” and emphasized its important for the government to realize this.
Jansma said having the tools to prevent addition must be available to online gambling consumers pre-regulation and her organziation’s focus is on the recreational player rather than addicts. “Our mission is to make sure recreational players remain recreational players”, she said.
Jellinek, a Dutch Addiction Center, believes four points are important for prevention and treatment of addiction according to van Bakkum:
1)Availability of information: risks associated with gambling, ease of locating care facilities, self-test so players can identify if they are at risk of gambling problems, infographics, etc
2)Objective & professional advice
3)Ensuring the nature of care is appropriate: light care or face-to-face care for those who need it
4)Evidence based intervention: monitor the market, determine if the risk is risin
All panelists agreed it’s important to ensure gambling remains a fun activity for those who are able to manage it. They also agreed waiting for iGaming regulation is not the way forward, prevention and education must start now.
The Sports Betting in the Netherlands panel featured two Dutch sports bettors, Niels Aarts and Bart van Riet, with Tom van Beem of BDSport Europe as the moderator, also an avid sports bettor and iGaming affiliate.
Both Aarts and van Riet agree the pending regulation of iGaming in Holland does not impact their choice to gamble online at all. Rather, they care more about ease of withdrawal and signing up, the look and feel of the site, reputation of the brand, simple mobile offerings and so on.
Its a good thing regulation of iGaming doesn’t mean much to the player as no one at Gaming in Holland 2016 will be holding their breath for regulation to be passed anytime soon. In the meantime, the attention should be placed be on the lotteries and the land based casino opportunities, an area in Holland that is much more white than gray.