After a dramatic surge following its legalisation in October 2021, the growth of the Netherlands’ online gambling market is showing signs of stabilising. The latest figures from the Gambling Authority indicate that although the sector’s gross revenue reached almost 1.4 billion euros in 2023, a 28% increase from the previous year, the momentum has noticeably slowed in recent months.

Initial Boom and Current Plateau

The initial excitement that boosted the Dutch online gambling market seems to be waning. While the year-on-year growth remains impressive, the second half of 2023 saw only a 1% increase in revenues compared to the first half. This slowdown contrasts sharply with the explosive growth observed immediately after the market’s legalisation, suggesting that the Dutch market is now growing less robustly compared to similar markets in other countries.

Impact of Advertising Restrictions

A key factor contributing to the leveling off could be the new advertising regulations implemented on July 1, 2023. These regulations have severely restricted gambling companies from advertising through traditional media channels such as radio, television, magazines, and outdoor advertising spaces. According to a spokesperson from the Gambling Authority, this change is likely influencing the market dynamics.

Interestingly, the total advertising expenditure by online gambling providers hasn’t decreased but shifted. Companies are now reallocating their budgets to sponsor more television and radio programs, indicating a strategic pivot in marketing tactics to adapt to the new rules.

New Player Protection Measures

The market also faces additional regulatory changes aimed at protecting online gamblers. Later this year, the introduction of a monthly spending limit of 700 euros per player per provider is expected, with a more stringent cap of 350 euros for individuals aged 18 to 24. These measures are designed to mitigate the risks associated with gambling addiction and significant financial losses.

Gambling Participation and Trends

The Gambling Authority’s report reveals that over 725,000 players engaged in online gambling through 1.1 million different accounts in the latter half of 2023, representing about 5% of the adult population. Almost 450,000 residents are active online gamblers monthly, with casino games like blackjack and roulette being particularly popular.

Interestingly, younger adults are more active in the online gambling scene, accounting for 22% of all gambling accounts, though they tend to lose less money compared to older gamblers. On average, Dutch online gamblers lose nearly 1,000 euros every six months.

Concerns Over Gambling Addiction

While it’s still too early to determine if the legalisation has led to an increase in gambling addictions, the Gambling Authority notes a concerning trend: the rise in the number of players requesting a “gambling freeze.” The Cruks register, which prevents registered individuals from gambling online or in physical casinos for six months, currently includes over 66,000 people.

Looking Ahead

As the Dutch online gambling market matures, the industry and regulators will need to balance growth with responsible gambling practices. The effectiveness of recent legislative changes and their impact on both the market and gambling behaviour will be critical areas of focus. Ensuring that the gambling sector remains both profitable and protective of its consumers will be a significant challenge moving forward.