Dutch banks resist limiting clients’ gambling spending

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Dutch banks resist limiting clients’ gambling spending

The Dutch banking association NVB has stated that banks will not assist the government in imposing limits on online gambling spending due to privacy concerns. This decision comes ahead of discussions with the justice ministry later this week.

Legal Protection Minister Franc Weerwind had requested banks to intervene in cases of excessive gambling spending as an interim measure until spending limit legislation is enacted. However, banks have expressed reluctance.

NVB spokesperson Ronit van der Schaaf told:

We see that the number of people with gambling debts is increasing but we are surprised the solution for the problem is deemed to be our responsibility.

Banks fulfill legal obligations to monitor for money laundering and terrorism-related transactions but do not oversee transfers to gambling companies. They prioritize privacy and oppose intrusive monitoring. They propose banning credit card use and limiting advertising to prevent debt.

However, a ministry spokesman doubts a credit card ban would work, suggesting that gambling limits set by banks would be more effective. Banks decline to follow British banks in blocking payments from gamblers, a practice currently undertaken only by the Lithuanian banking app Revolut in the Netherlands.

Since the legalization of online gambling in October 2021, hundreds of thousands of new players have joined, with many experiencing problematic debts, leading to depression and suicidal thoughts, according to the gambling watchdog KSA.

One vulnerability in the current system is the lack of linkage between accounts opened with different gambling companies. Legal Protection Minister Franc Weerwind plans to implement a €700 monthly spending limit for online gamblers to combat addiction.

However, these limits will apply per company, allowing problem gamblers to open accounts with multiple firms. Currently, players have the freedom to set their spending limits, with alarms only triggering if these limits are exceeded, even if set as high as €10,000. There are also minimal checks on whether individuals can afford these amounts.