Toto Online, a Nederlandse Loterij brand, has been hit with a penalty of €400,000 by the Kansspelautoriteit (KSA), the Dutch gambling authority.
The company received a fine for targeted advertising of its gambling products to 18-23-year-old customers, due to sending messages to its entire customer base over four months.
Said messages were sent by the operator of the www.toto.nl, www.sport.toto.nl and www.casino.toto.nl sites to its customers between 1 October 2021 and 1 February 2022.
Under Dutch law, although 18-23-year-olds can bet, targeted advertising cannot be sent to these groups. Additionally, Toto’s messaging included the promotion of bonus offers, which is prohibited in general.
René Jansen, KSA Chair, said: “The law says that vulnerable groups, including young adults, must be given extra protection. The brains of young people are still developing. As a result, they are extra vulnerable to developing a gambling addiction.
“Gaming providers must fully respect the rules intended to protect vulnerable groups. That didn’t happen here and therefore this is a fine.”
The fine follows warnings issued to two operators earlier this month for ‘insufficiently complying’ with Dutch anti-money laundering legislation.
On social responsibility matters, however, the regulator has also been active of late, having cautioned operators to avoid a ‘bombardment of advertising’ during the World Cup.
In a statement on the authority’s website, Jansen observed that Dutch gambling advertising had increased dramatically following the re-regulation of the market last year.
This prompted politicians such as Justice Minister Franc Weerwind to introduce new measures, such as a ban on ‘role models’ – notably sports figures – from appearing in advertising for betting firms.
“Of course, I understand that a World Cup is an excellent opportunity to draw attention to the range of sports betting,” Jansen remarked.
“Nevertheless, I very much hope that the same mistake will not be made after October 1, 2021, when the legal market for online games of chance opened in the Netherlands.
“The bombardment of advertising caused so much annoyance that Minister Franc Weerwind was forced to intervene, partly at the urging of the House of Representatives.”
In a more recent update, the KSA asserted that it would remain ‘extra vigilant’ to potential breaches of marketing regulations throughout the World Cup.