The Dutch government has published the full draft of its ban on ‘untargeted’ advertising and recruitment by licensed betting companies in the Netherlands, setting a start date of 1 July.
From this date, operators in the Netherlands will have to adhere to a much stricter advertising policy. Measures include a ban on televised advertisements and marketing in public places, such as via billiards and on printed media.
Bookmakers will have a little more leeway with online and social media advertising. Companies can continue to do so, but must be able to prove that any material is targeted to audiences aged 24 and older.
The document was submitted to the Hague on 5 April by Franc Weerwind, Minister for Legal Protection at the Ministry of Justice and Security, the long-term architect of the legislation.
Following the regulation of the Dutch online market on 1 October 2021, political observers in the Netherlands have voiced concern about the increase in advertising after the first licences were issued.
Explaining the rationale behind the new restrictions on the Dutch online betting sector less than three years into maturity, Weerwind outlined that ‘the amount of advertising for remote games of chance has increased sharply’.
“Addiction care and people who have experience with addiction problems have indicated that they have difficulty with the large amount of untargeted advertising,” the Minister wrote.
“Research also shows that advertising for remote games of chance is often seen through channels with a very wide reach. As a result, people with addiction problems for games of chance can hardly escape a confrontation with games of chance advertising in their daily lives.”
Weerwind did acknowledge that advertising fulfils a core function of the KOA Act legislation which regulated the market back in 2021, that being promotion of the regulated offering.
“It should be noted that it is difficult to quantify the exact consequences of the large amount of untargeted advertising and its broad and untargeted reach,” Weerwind continued.
“This is primarily because it is not yet clear how large the number of players that play on the illegal market are and have played in the past.
“It is clear that many Dutch people already played with illegal providers before the market opened, but it is unclear how large this number is exactly, how many players have since switched from illegal to legal providers and what growth of new players there has been.”
Both the government and KSA have observed that marketing by licensed bookmakers directs punters to legal operators that adhere to the player protection standards enforced by the Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) gambling authority.
However, legislators and addiction treatment specialists’ main concerns are that advertising may be too far-reaching, potentially exposing young people – meaning those aged 18-24 – and under-age consumers to age-restricted betting products.
By confirming the 1 July launch date for the advertising clampdown, Weerwind remains on track with his most recent legislative objectives, having said in March that the ban would come into force no later than this day.
The ban was initially scheduled to come into force on 1 January 2023, but – much like its legislative counterpart in the UK’s Gambling Act review – faced some delays, and the Dutch Council of State observed at the start of the year that it was unlikely before April.
On 1 July, the Netherlands will join Belgium in significantly clamping down on operators’ marketing abilities, as its neighbour to the south also bans ads across TV, radio, cinema, magazines, newspapers and in public spaces.
Further down the line, operators will also have to prepare for a rollback in Dutch sports sponsorships, which will have to come to a close by 1 July 2024 following a transitional period.