Sander Dekker, the Netherlands Minister for Legal Protection, has said that the Dutch authorities will focus on prevention and treatment of the potential risk for addiction to online games among young people. Dekker further clarified that gaming was a popular and generally accepted leisure activity for young people. He stated that players used games to socialize online, and noted the products could even help minors develop skills. On the other hand, Dekker admitted that these games could be designed in a way that encouraged constant play.
Besides, he confirmed that altering the revenue model indicated that online games were often offered for free instead of purchasing the titles outright. He also stated that some young people developed problems, which could be referred to as an addiction. Dekker clarified that as there was no “one size fits all” approach to preventing gaming addiction. This was not enough to call for a total ban on these games. He continued to say that a ban was not necessary. Rather, the government was committed to providing effective treatment and enforcing existing regulations in addition to prevention and education.
Dekker stated that, in the case of (online) gaming, prevention and education are tasks shared by the national government and the gaming industry itself. Currently, through the Gamen Infolijn portal and the Helder op School initiative, the Dutch government is looking to offer information to players and their parents, which will make schools provide education and awareness training on addiction. Dekker pointed out that he has asked the Ministry of Justice and Security’s research center to investigate links between gaming and gambling addiction. He clarified that the legality of loot boxes, expanding on a response to a parliamentary question from van Nipsen in June.
Dekker said that the Kansspelautoriteit (KSA), the country’s gambling regulator, was able to enforce this rule the Minister noted. Consumer watchdog, Autoriteit Consument en Markt (ACM), was responsible for ensuring that loot boxes that did not fall under the KSA’s remit were not offered in a way that misled or treated players unfairly. Rules state that players must not be obliged to purchase loot boxes to process in a game, and loot boxes must be offered in local currency. Dekker promised to continue monitoring the sector, and once the findings are complete, he would communicate the risk factors and addictive features to parliament.