The Dutch gambling minister has reassured lawmakers that the Netherlands Gambling Authority (KSA) will “take action” against violations of the incoming advertising restrictions, as a major operator pauses its affiliate programme until the impact of the changes becomes clear.
Gambling minister Franc Weerwind was responding to a question put forward by lawmakers, concerned by comments made by Rene Jansen, chair of the KSA, at the Gaming in Holland conference in Amsterdam on June 8.
Jansen said the gambling regulator will not rush to enforce the country’s impending ban on non-targeted advertising, in part because it does not yet know exactly how it will work in practice.
From July 1, all forms of so-called non-targeted ads for online gambling will be illegal in the Netherlands, meaning an effective ban on all forms of TV, radio and billboard advertising.
Weerewind said he expects “licensed providers not to sit back and push the boundaries" and supports Jansen's view to “initially focus on monitoring compliance with the new rules” before deciding how to “deal with the new rules in practice”.
“This can consist of broad guidelines or, in individual cases, norm-setting conversations. This specifically concerns the explanation of practical issues, for example how to measure whether online advertising has reached at least 95 percent of people aged 24 or older,” Weerwind said.
The minister said how compliance against the ad ban is enforced is up to the KSA, again reiterating Jansen's sentiment that he will be waiting to see the impacts of the ban and how it works in practice.
Weerwind also dismissed the idea that gambling providers have had enough time to prepare for the upcoming ban.
He went on to say that talking to licensees is often “more effective than imposing a fine”, adding that this “does not alter the fact that violations can be punished in the form of a fine”.
Weerwind concluded that “illegal providers generally do not comply with any advertising restrictions when space is offered to do so. I do not see any particular reason to discuss the line of supervision and enforcement of the new advertising rules put forward by the chairman.”
The questions were introduced on June 12 by three members of parliament from different political parties: Mirjam Bikker; Anne Kuik; and Michiel van Nispen.
Jansen is set to next discuss the advertising ban at iGB Live in Amsterdam on July 12.
However, TOTO, the sports and casino operator owned by the Nederlandse Loterij, has already decided to pause its affiliate programme from July 1, 2023, for at least one month.
A spokesperson for TOTO told VIXIO GamblingCompliance that it had expected the KSA to provide “further guidelines” on the advertising restrictions but these have “not yet been issued”.
Over the past few weeks, TOTO and its digital partners have explored possible measures it can take to advertise online.
“TOTO has also reviewed the proposals from several affiliates and the Responsible Affiliates Certification. While there are good proposals, it is still unclear whether these proposals, as specifically suggested by [affiliate monitoring group] KVA, can be effectively implemented in practice and whether they demonstrably meet the legal requirements,” the company said.
During the one-month break, TOTO will monitor how affiliates comply with the conditions set out in the new law.
If TOTO thinks an affiliate can demonstrably meet the “strict conditions” of the law, TOTO “may decide to resume the collaboration”.
Entain-owned BetCity has also reportedly ended its affiliate programme in advance of July 1.