Dutch Minister for Legal Protections, Franc Weerwind, is confident in the Dutch Gambling Authority’s (DGA) abilities to enforce the incoming advertising ban, due to come into force on 1 July.
The Minister praised the Kansspelautoriteit’s (KSA) ‘robust’ working method in a parliamentary questions session whilst making it clear that the authority will have the ultimate responsibility for enforcing the advertising ban.
When questioned by one Representative as to whether the industry can expect fines for advertising ban breaches, Weerwind stated that supervision and enforcement must be effective in order to ensure compliance, but did not fully endorse fines.
He said: “In order to achieve this, invisible measures, such as norm-setting talks, are often more effective than imposing a fine. Which of course does not alter the fact that violations can be punished in the form of a fine.
“It is up to the KSA to decide what the most appropriate intervention is, whereby obvious violations are of course dealt with more strictly.”
The KSA has not shied away from deploying fines as part of its regulatory arsenal over the past year. Recent months have seen fines levied against the likes of Bingoal Nederland BV for advertising infractions and Merkur Casino for self-exclusion breaches, for example.
If Weerwind’s comments to parliamentarians are anything to go by, fines will not be utilised – at least not immediately – to ensure compliance with the advertising ban. It is unclear whether more aggressive enforcement measures will be implemented as the market adjusts to the ban, however.
Ultimately, it is ‘up to the KSA’ to supervise and enforce the ban, Weerwind said, adding: “I understand that the KSA takes the time to look carefully at how the ban works in practice and how it can effectively supervise and enforce it.
“In addition, experience has shown that the KSA’s working method of first conducting norm transferring discussions before proceeding with enforcement is effective.”
The government still expects operators ‘to respect’ the ban, unsurprisingly. Despite the KSA having most responsibility for the ban, Weerwind asserted that ‘a more important signal should emanate mainly from the licensed providers’.
With the advertising ban having been in the political pipeline for around a year-and-a-half, being approved by the House of Representatives in December 2022 and with the final text published on 19 April 2023, Weerwind believes operators have had ample time to prepare.
In his response to the first question of the session, Weerwind referred back to a speech made by KSA Chairman René Jansen at the Gaming in Holland conference earlier this month.
Referencing the Chairman’s comments, Weerwind asserted that operators must ‘explain the rules strictly yourself, to operate within them and not to push the boundaries’ once the ban comes into force, and not await further guidance from the KSA.
From 1 July, Dutch licence holders will be unable to conduct ‘untargeted’ advertising, with all marketing directed towards under 18s. Banned methods include commercials on TV and radio, in public spaces such as billboards and in newspapers, although land-based gaming can still be promoted and some social media marketing will be allowed.