The Dutch gambling industry, broadcasters and other media organisations have agreed a voluntary advertising code that will “significantly reduce the perceived overkill of advertisements”, according to the Licensed Dutch Online Gaming Providers (VNLOK) trade group.
The code sets a maximum of three 30-second ads for “high-risk games of chance” per commercial break and extends a mandatory ban on broadcasting commercials between 6am and 9pm to the internet.
The ad restrictions also apply to the land-based outlets of the members of VNLOK, Nederlandse Loterij, Holland Casino, Fair Play Casino, Jack's Casino, and ZETurf.
The code will reduce the number of ads without jeopardising the government’s goal of keeping 80 percent of current players with licensed operators, the group said, with the code taking effect on Wednesday, December 15, 2021.
It also bans bonuses for players under the age of 25 and limits them to no more than €250 in general, the group said.
It was developed in conjunction with the Advertising Standards Commission (SRC), a committee that will field complaints and ask companies to withdraw the ads if complaints are found to be justified.
The code has been endorsed by the Netherlands Online Gambling Association (NOGA), according to the commission.
NOGA, however, has said that although it finds what it considers a flawed code better than no code, it objects to different forms of gambling being treated differently.
The Dutch Consumers’ Association (Consumentenbond) is even less impressed with the agreement, announcing it is ending its collaboration with the advertising commission after alleging the SRC refused to adjust the gambling advertising code in response to its concerns that it “offers too little protection to vulnerable groups and against gambling addiction”.
“Apparently the commercial interests of the gambling industry outweigh the wellbeing of consumers,” said Sandra Molenaar, director of the consumer group.
“This is the last straw for the Consumers’ Association, after we ran into the same problems with previous codes such as the advertising code for foodstuffs and the code for telemarketing,” she said.
The consumer group had previously said that it objects to the fact that advertising to children and young adults would be allowed as long as the medium’s audience does not constitute more than a certain percentage of young people.
The policy was adopted on Wednesday, just as gambling advertising was being debated in parliament.
This week marks a reset in Dutch government, as a four-party coalition has reached agreement on new goals, with VVD party leader Mark Rutte remaining as Prime Minister. Full details of the agreement are not yet public.
How the shift in government will affect gambling is not known, but joining the coalition is the Christian Union party, which opposes gambling advertising, saying that it is “not an innocent game, but an addictive activity”.
The party supports moving gambling responsibilities to the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport from its current status at the Ministry of Justice and Security.
The newly-inaugurated gambling code will apply until March 2023, although it will be evaluated in October 2022, according to the SRC.
Last month, the authority ruled against a complaint about a Holland Casino commercial which featured a woman playing a poker game on her phone during a business meeting.
The authority found that the commercial “has an unmistakably humorous and absurd character and cannot be interpreted as a serious call to play the recommended game of chance on the telephone during working hours”.