Dutch gambling regulator clarifies and tightens rules for loss-based bonuses

Player protection

The Dutch Gambling Authority (KSA) has conducted a study on cashback bonuses in the online gambling industry and found that more needs to be done to attract operators offering loss-based bonuses.

The concept of these bonuses is simple: players receive a percentage of their losses back into their account in the form of cash. However, they are banned in the Netherlands because the KSA believes they encourage customers to gamble more and take greater risks than they otherwise would – be it at larger stakes or at bets with worse odds – because they know that they will get some of their losses back.

As a result of the investigation results, no gambling operators were penalized, but one of them received a formal warning for offering what the KSA now calls a “loss-based bonus”. Two other people received letters to ensure they understood the regulations. At least one of the operators offered loss-based bonuses with payments other than direct cashback; The KSA made it clear that a loss bonus was not permitted regardless of the type of reimbursement.

“At the KSA, the interests of the players are the focus. A safe gambling market and the prevention of gambling problems are at the top of our agenda,” said KSA Chairman René Jansen.

“In order to protect players even better, we are immediately clarifying the definition as the basis for strict supervision. Any bonus that in any way involves a loss is prohibited,” he added.

Online poker works differently

Loss-based bonuses, when offered, are typically offered at online casino sites, as opposed to online poker rooms. Online poker rooms award bonuses based on how much rake a player generates. It doesn't matter whether the player wins or loses a hand, whether he wins money in a tournament or not, or whether he is up or down in a session. Raking is raking.

Partypoker, for example, gives players one loyalty point for every dollar they generate in rake. Terms and conditions may vary depending on the bonus, but one bonus the site currently offers requires players to earn 12x the bonus amount to receive the full amount. The bonus is released in stages, so it's possible to still earn some if you can't play enough to get everything.

Back in the early to mid-eights, when online poker was just starting to grow, online poker bonuses were much easier to earn. Many sites – I remember partypoker being one of them – only required a certain number of raked hands to unlock deposit bonuses, not cumulative dollar amounts. Thus, it was very easy to earn hundreds of dollars in bonuses by playing on micro-stakes tables. Unfortunately for us players, the poker rooms eventually woke up.

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