Dutch gambling industry executives are hoping a voluntary agreement can be forged with media and broadcasting officials that will fend off a potential “avalanche” of marketing and a resulting political backlash.
Dutch gambling law requires advertising to be “moderate”, which presents a challenge, said Peter-Paul de Goeij, managing director of the Netherlands Online Gambling Association.
Clearly advertising “should not be blaring, and shouty and in your face”, he said.
But “moderate” also suggests the overall volume of advertising needs to be limited, something over which an individual gambling company has very little control, de Goeij said.
Land-based gambling companies are already advertising a lot — add to that international online operators and new entrants and it suggests a flood of ads, he said.
“We can’t afford as an industry to let this happen, it’s like a train wreck in slow motion,” de Goeij said.
If land-based gambling incumbents cannot forge an agreement with the media on advertising volumes, he said the trade group will press for a urgent dialogue.
“We will definitely be very vocal about this,” he said.
Adding to concerns is that the Netherlands Gambling Authority (KSA) has said it will announce the list of licensees on September 29, just days before the October 1 launch of the market, and no one will be able to advertise before that date.
De Goeij and attorney Alan Littler of Kalff Katz & Franssen spoke last week at the European Gaming Q3 Meetup on a panel on the upcoming Netherlands market launch.
In April, the regulator said it had received 28 licence applications that it will be reviewing for the first round of gambling licensing.
To build a case for the future, the trade group has introduced what it calls an online gambling barometer that will annually measure how the industry is viewed, to have data to present to the regulator and the Ministry of Justice.
The good news is that the Dutch government seems to be more flexible about rules than some other European countries, Littler and de Goeij said.
For example, websites are meant to be in Dutch.
That led to questions about live casino games — could a live presenter spin a roulette wheel or deal cards in English?
After prodding, the KSA said that live casinos could be in other languages, as long as Dutch rules and terms and conditions were only a click away, de Goeij said.
Littler said the government has loosened an initial requirement that all gambling systems be entirely located in the European Union.
After some back and forth with the justice ministry, the KSA said “we’re not going to make a fuss if a bit of the gaming system is outside the EU”, he said.