The Dutch House of Representatives last night passed a surprise motion calling for an end to gambling advertising, a step which will pressure the Cabinet to address a possible ban on sports betting and casino ads.
Members of the House voted to support a motion supporting a ban on all untargeted forms of advertising for “high-risk” forms of gambling, which would effectively ban television and radio advertising.
The vote also called for extending the current watershed ban on most forms of gambling broadcast advertising that runs from 6am to 9pm to the internet.
The vote came even though earlier on Thursday (December 16), minister for legal protection Sander Dekker had resisted a call for tighter restrictions on advertising.
And despite the gambling industry’s adoption of a voluntary code restricting the volume of ads on Tuesday (December 14).
A ban on untargeted forms of advertising means a ban on radio and TV ads, which cannot be targeted, and the motion, if implemented, would limit marketing to targeted ads on the internet after 9pm.
The motion by socialist party member Michiel van Nispen was supported by a House majority last night, according to Het Financieele Dagblad.
Parliamentary debate had focused on concerns that minors and vulnerable groups are being influenced.
Dekker had told the parliament that advertising helps bring players to licensed gambling sites, a primary goal of legislation, according to the Dutch financial publication.
“It is a fact of life that if you allow advertising, it also reaches young people,” he said. “But I’m not ready to ban that altogether now.”
Media attention and even comedy shows have focused on what some consider a barrage of advertising since online gambling was legalised on October 1.
The Dutch Addiction Association (Verslavingskunde Nederland) has advocated a ban on advertising, saying that the number of ads had risen by 50 percent since online gambling was legalised.
The group said the volume of ads will only increase when more major international operators gain licences.
There are currently only 11 licensees, with brands such as Betsson, Kindred Group’s Unibet and Entain’s bwin waiting for their cooling-off periods to expire before they can apply.
In October and November, the Dutch Lottery’s TOTO and Holland Casino by far ran the most ads, according to CasinoNieuws affiliate gambling news website, which cited Nielsen statistics.
Earlier this week, minister Dekker, answering written parliamentary questions, said that he thought for now, strict oversight by the Netherlands Gambling Authority (KSA) is sufficient to ensure that minors and vulnerable persons are not targeted by advertising.
“The fact that some providers push the limits of what is permissible with their advertising and possibly go beyond that, does not in itself mean that rules need to be tightened up,” he wrote. “Rather, this requires strict supervision and enforcement of compliance.”
If necessary, adjustments could be made by secondary legislation, Dekker wrote.
The voluntary code adopted this week by the gambling industry apparently has not had much impact on parliamentary debate.
The code would limit commercial breaks to three 30-second ads for “high-risk games of chance” and bar bonuses for players under the age of 25.