Dutch Regulator Names New Boss, Gives Football Ad Red Card

March 12, 2024
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The Netherlands Gambling Authority (KSA) has announced its new president, as it clarifies tough rules around the country’s partial advertising ban.
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The Netherlands Gambling Authority (KSA) has announced its new president, as it clarifies tough rules around the country’s partial advertising ban.

From July 1 this year, the gambling regulator in the Netherlands will be led by Michel Groothuizen, a veteran of gambling policy.

As the former policy director at the Financial Economic Department (FEZ), Groothuizen spearheaded government work on gambling from 2007 onwards and was involved in the creation of the KSA in 2012.

He has since left that brief to work as the general director of the Netherlands Institute for Forensic Psychiatry and most recently as the deputy director general of the Judicial Institutions Service.

Groothuizen characterised his return to the gambling fold as rekindling an “old love”.

“Old love never dies,” he said in translated comments.

“From 2007 onwards, as policy director, I was responsible, among other things, for the gambling dossier. One of my tasks was to establish the Gaming Authority. We succeeded in 2012. We had already been working on new legislation for a few years to manage online gambling offerings. 

“It took almost 10 years before the law that was supposed to regulate this actually came into effect. I was long gone by then. But I think it is a wonderful challenge at this time to ensure safe gambling in a socially responsible manner and to combat negative consequences, such as gambling addiction,” said Groothuizen.

Ric de Rooij, deputy secretary general of the Ministry of Justice and Security, said: “With Michel, the KSA will have a new manager with very broad administrative experience and knowledge of the subject in question. This is also necessary because developments surrounding gambling do not stand still and will continue to require attention.”

Gambling remains politically fraught in the Netherlands, with several politicians pushing for harsher and harsher measures.

Motions were recently passed in the Dutch parliament that call on the government to turn planned per-operator deposit limits into market-wide restrictions, and to investigate tougher enforcement.

The KSA has, meanwhile, committed to new affordability measures and promised that anti-money laundering fines will be issued this year.

Before the announcement, industry figures suggested that any new head of the KSA would not lead to a major divergence in regulatory policy in the Netherlands, but the leadership style of the new president is likely to have at least some impact, in particular on how Dutch regulation is viewed internationally. 

Outgoing president René Jansen has been notably active within Europe, regularly appearing at conferences internationally and establishing the KSA’s presence among European regulators, especially via his tenure as the head of the Gambling Regulators European Forum (GREF).

No Football Loopholes For Ad Ban

This week the KSA has also announced that a planned advertisement by an unnamed Dutch football club has been banned because it would have breached the country’s ban on untargeted advertising.

The club is sponsored by a gambling company and the regulator ruled that an advert depicting a life-sized image of the club captain “on a prominent building” would be in breach of the law.

The marketing had been submitted to the KSA for approval before being published, the regulator said.

Sports teams are still permitted to agree gambling sponsorship deals under a moratorium that runs until July 2025.

However, the KSA said the visibility of those sponsorships should be restricted to actual sporting activities or venues.

“In sports sponsorship it is important that there is a direct relationship between the neutral mention of the logo or name of the licence holder, the practice of the sport and the place where this sport is practised,” the regulator said.

The club would have faced a sanction if it had published the advertisement, the KSA added.

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