The Netherlands is planning to introduce more gambling advertising restrictions, including a ban on non-targeted online ads and the use of celebrities in promotions, in response to political concerns.
Dutch gambling trade groups VNLOK and NOGA have also agreed to introduce more self-regulatory measures, including no more advertising of online gambling in print media, on the radio or in outdoor areas.
The trade groups will also shorten the timeframe during which online gambling ads can appear on TV to between 10pm and 6am, according to a letter sent from minister for legal protection Franc Weerwind to the House of Representatives on March 17.
VNLOK said in a separate press release that the online sector also wants to make agreements about standardising and lowering withdrawal limits and enforcing a maximum login period.
Helma Lodders, chairman of VNLOK, said the response reflects the ongoing constructive consultation with the industry to respond to “social unrest”.
“We are taking firm steps, leaving room for online — where targeted advertising is possible — to achieve the channelling objective. In addition, there must be a real offensive against illegal parties that offer bonuses all the way to heaven,” Lodders said.
The self-regulation changes agreed by the groups will be in place by April 1, 2022 “or as soon as possible after”, with the aim to include these in the advertising code for online games of chance.
A separate new voluntary code for the gambling industry, which seeks to reduce the volume of ads, only came into effect on February 1, 2022.
As a result of the incoming self-regulation, the minister predicts the number of TV ads will soon be “severely limited” just as the cooling-off period ends, which will likely see numerous more operators enter the market, including a number of major international brands.
“The arrival of new licensed providers is not expected to lead to more advertising for online games of chance, but to a greater diversity of advertisements,” Weerwind wrote.
Self-regulation comes ahead of new restrictions that will be proposed in an amendment to the Gambling Act, according to Weerwind, who wants them in place for high-risk games “as soon as possible”.
“Clear signals have been given by, among others, addiction experts and ex-addicts who have difficulty with the volume of untargeted advertising. I also see a trend in the available data that young people in particular are showing an interest in gambling and this concerns a vulnerable group I want to protect,” Weerwind said.
Pending the amendment, Weerwind plans to have the “Recruitment, Advertising and Addiction Prevention Decree” ready for consultation before the summer, with the intention of having it enter into force in June.
One possible inclusion in the decree is a time window for online gambling ads and videos, according to the letter.
Weerwind is also aiming to introduce a ban on the use of “role models” in advertising by June.
The minister’s department was committed to producing a study, due in April, by his predecessor Sander Dekker, in response to the House of Representatives’ motion asking the government to ban “targeted” advertising for “high-risk” gambling.
However, the minister said he is confident the illegal market is already in “flux” and withdrawing from the market, as payment providers withdraw their services from unlicensed gambling sites.
Separately, Weerwind’s letter also says an amendment will be introduced to allow the State Lottery, lotto and charity lottery to carry a different warning to other gambling products.
He also addressed a motion asking how COVID-19 measures had affected the gambling habits of young people, saying a “clear causal relationship between the corona measures and starting to play games of chance cannot be investigated, because many factors can influence changes in young people's leisure activities”.
Dutch gambling advertising more than doubled in the months following legalisation of online gambling on October 1, according to market researcher DVJ Insights, using data from Adfact.
Gambling advertising averaged €3.5m per week in television, radio and print ads since legalisation, compared with €1.5m prior to the date.