Estonia's Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications (MEAC) has warned that banning gambling advertising will “lead to a series of new concerns” and called for more research ahead of proposed changes to the country’s Advertising Act.
The MEAC published plans for a new draft law on February 1, which covers its recommendations on a host of possible changes and is intended to spark a response from industry stakeholders.
Proposed changes that would impact gambling adverts include new social media rules covering the use of influencers.
Evaluating banning gambling adverts was included in Estonia’s coalition government formation agreement in April 2023.
A working group was set up shortly after and concluded in the recent notification that instead of banning gambling ads, it would be better to focus on improving other measures to protect consumers, such as preventing players from circumventing self-exclusion.
Merike Koppel, the head of business environment at the ministry, told local papers: “The most important thing we would like to see change is for advertising to comply with the law. Today we see many infringements.”
Koppel said in 2023 there were 20 infringement proceedings related to gambling advertising.
Gambling advertising restrictions are already very prohibitive in Estonia, with licensees only able to promote their products in a very limited number of places, such as in gambling venues or on their websites.
The MEAC’s notification states that allowing licensees to advertise their gambling products is a “great privilege” and that a ban “puts Estonian companies in a significantly worse competitive position than companies from other countries”.
“The state will lose tax money from both advertising income and income related to business. In addition, there is a risk that illegal operators will enter the market, the so-called secret (black) market is growing.”
In 2024, Estonia’s government plans to order a study into the relationship between negative consumer behaviours, such as getting into debt or addiction, and the advertising of certain products, including gambling. The results of this study will contribute to the preparation of the future draft law.
A completed draft is planned for the end of 2024, with new advertising rules expected to come into effect at the end of 2025.