The Dutch Online Gambling Association (NOGA) is “gravely concerned” people in the Netherlands are being shown unlicensed operators when they use Google to search for “online casinos”.
Local affiliate and news website CasinoNieuws.nl made the discovery during research which found that when making Google searches for various well-known keywords related to online casinos “in many cases, you end up with illegal providers”.
At the time of writing, the Netherlands Gambling Authority (KSA) had not responded to VIXIO GamblingCompliance's request for comment.
However, it told CasinoNieuws.nl it is “familiar” with the situation and will be investigating its legal options.
“Dutch licensed operators face a lot of criticism about the total volume of advertising for licensed online gambling,” NOGA managing director Peter-Paul de Goeij told VIXIO.
Last month, the Dutch parliament adopted a motion calling on the government to ban non-targeted advertising for high-risk gambling, which, added to the news that there are “unrestricted advertising opportunities for black market operators at Google, makes it especially hard for licensed operators to compete with the illegal offering”, de Goeij said.
NOGA is calling on Google to “take responsibility” and “do the right thing and to cease selling advertising to illegal operators”.
“The only way the Netherlands market will become a success is when we can convince Dutch internet gamblers to play with the licensed offer where they can play responsibly under the protection of Dutch law and the Netherlands Gambling Authority (KSA),” de Goeij said.
Dutch advertising for licensed gambling operators has more than doubled to €3.5m per week in television, radio, and print ads, since legislation opened the online market on October 1, according to market researcher DVJ Insights, using data from Adfact.
Since then, Sander Dekker, the former minister in charge of Dutch gambling issues, wrote to lawmakers calling on them to examine a proposed gambling advertising ban and report on issues, such as its impact on keeping players in the licensed system and on contributions to charities and sports, on his way out of the job.
In Dekker's letter sent before his departure, he highlighted the need for “strict rules”, including the fact that no gambling ads may target young or vulnerable people and that the industry’s voluntary code, which will seek to reduce the volume of ads, takes effect on February 1.
The KSA has also shown a recent willingness to go after affiliate websites marketing unlicensed operators.
In December, it issued cease and desist orders to 15 websites it found had been running ads for illegal gambling.