Posted on: April 25, 2023, 03:19h.
Last updated on: April 25, 2023, 03:19h.
The Netherlands introduced a regulated online gaming market about a year and a half ago and is still molding the space. The government has continued to add new rules since then, although it now took its biggest leap forward with the completion of a new legal framework for betting and gaming ads.
The Dutch government has decided to introduce a general ban on untargeted advertising for offline and online gambling. The rules take effect as of July 1 of this year, which means operators don’t have much time to prepare.
This update has been discussed for some time and the July start was always part of the plan. However, it wasn’t until now that everything became official. Last Wednesday, about two months before the ban will take effect, the government published the new laws.
Gaming Advertising On The Chopping Block
The ban covers all radio and TV commercials and billboards on the street. It will also include a ban on sponsorships of TV programs and sports clubs, although that won’t take effect until next year. Advertising on the Internet and TV on demand can continue, but only under strict conditions.
The impending ban relates to untargeted advertising, meaning that operators must ensure that the ads don’t reach vulnerable consumers. These are described as those who are at risk of developing a gambling addiction or those who are not of legal gambling age. Blanket advertising for an online casino would fall into the untargeted advertising column.
The goal is similar to that of the current gaming environment in other countries. The main focus is responsible gambling and the protection of vulnerable consumers from themselves.
Dutch Minister For Legal Protection Franc Weerwind initially hoped to put the new rules in place at the beginning of the year, but feedback meant that certain language needed to be addressed. Weerwind understands the important role advertising plays in separating the licensed and unlicensed platforms; however, he helped formulate the new rules in order to also address the government’s duty in protecting at-risk consumers. He hopes the new laws will help those resist the temptation to gamble.
The introduction of the advertising ban is a complex matter, partly because of the current contracts between operators and sponsored parties. The main sponsorship of football club AZ by Kansino is a good example of this, as is the deal between Betcity and the creators of the Betstreet Boys podcast. The clubs rely on the income the sponsorship deals bring in, and to cut them off immediately could cause irreparable damage.
One Step At A Time
The government will roll out the ban in phases, with the targeted gambling ad rules beginning in July. Then, after a year, the sponsorship of events and programs by providers of online games of chance will also be banned. Finally, from July 1, 2025, the ban on sponsorships of sports locations and sports clubs by gambling companies will begin.
In 2022, according to government data, the turnover of the online casino market was about €450 million (US$496.21 million). Some are concerned about how the ban might impact that figure, although other countries have been able to adapt well.
There have also been complaints against the government for alleged hypocrisy over the new rules. Toto and Holland Casino spent €10.25 million and €8.54 million (US$11.3 million and $9.42 million), respectively, on advertising in 2021.
Both of the entities are controlled by the state. Local gaming data site Intikkertje points out that the amount is more than what any private operator spent in the same period. The closest was Tombola, which spent €5.29 million (US$5.83 million).
The legislative reforms only signal a part of the changes to the Dutch gaming market. The government plans on studying the impact of the reforms in a year to see if they’ve met their objectives. If not, even stricter laws could arrive.