Gambling and problem gambling in the Netherlands

Abstract

Abstract: Aims. To provide an overview of gambling in the Netherlands, focusing on historical background, policy, legislation, prevalence of problem gambling, availability of treatment options and research base. Methods. Literature review. Results. Contradictions between gambling policy and practice have been present in the past 15-20 years, and have led to an increasingly stricter gambling regulation to retain the government policy to restrict gambling within a national monopoly. Conversely, political efforts have been made to legalize internet gambling, but have not yet been approved. Compared to other European countries, slot machine gambling and casino gambling are relatively popular, whereas betting is relatively unpopular. Last-year problem gambling prevalence (South Oaks Gambling Screen score > 5) is estimated at 0.22-0.15% (2005, 2011). Treatment for problem gambling is covered by health insurance under the same conditions as substance dependence, but only a small proportion of Dutch problem gamblers seeks help at addiction treatment centres. Conclusions. Gambling policy in the Netherlands has become stricter during recent last years in order to maintain the Dutch gambling monopoly. Problem gambling in the Netherlands is relatively stable. Dutch research on problem gambling has a lack of longitudinal studies. Most of the epidemiological gambling studies are reported in non-peer-reviewed research reports, which diminishes control by independent peers on the methodology and interpretation of results. Recent efforts to enhance consistency in research methods between gambling studies over time could enhance knowledge on changes in (problem) gambling in the Netherlands.

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