Dutch minister asks for patience on gambling ad ban

Dutch politicians are calling for a ban on untargeted gambling ads.
Dutch politicians are calling for a ban on untargeted gambling ads.

The Netherlands’ new minister for legal protection has responded to criticism in parliament saying that a ban will take more time.

The Netherlands.- The new minister for legal protection Franc Weerwind has responded to pressure from MPs to speed up the implementation of a ban on untargeted gambling adverts in the Netherlands.

Following questioning in the Dutch House of Representatives, Weerwind stressed that a ban could not be introduced overnight and required legal analysis.

MPs and addiction experts have urged the government to ban “irritating and misleading” ads which they say have taken over evening television advertising slots since the Netherlands launched its regulated online gambling market on October 2 last year.

Operators spent €23m on gambling ads in the first two months after the regulated market launched. In December, MPs voted in favour of a motion calling for an end to what they described as an “unguided barrage” of untargeted ads.

ChristenUnie MP Don Ceder counted 11,237 gambling advertisements on television in the month of December. He said: “I hear the minister say that he should investigate the legal implications, but an advertising ban can be arranged with a small amendment to the law.”

Labour MP Henk Nijboer described the number of ads on TV as “sickening” and particularly complained about the use of celebs such as magician Hans Klok and footballer Wesley Sneijder. However, Weerwind has said he needs more time to analyse the implications of a ban.

Gambling addiction researcher Leroy Snippe told Dutch press: “We [the Dutch] have not built up a defence yet. And the ads are telling people gambling is a party.”

However, Weerwind, who has replaced Sander Dekker as minister for legal protection, said: “Law changes in the Netherlands take two years. If I put a lot of pressure, it might be possible in a year. But I can do no more than promise to stretch myself to the limit.”

Weerwind also stressed that a certain amount of advertising was necessary to “guide players to legal online offerings.”

Gambling ad regulations in the Netherlands

For now, the rules state that gambling ads in the Netherlands must not be shown before 9pm and must not feature role models that appeal mainly to people aged under 25. Ads must also carry a safer gambling message.

The Dutch gambling regulator, de Kansspelautoriteit (KSA), supervises these rules and to date has only issued a warning to Holland Casino for promoting odds on football matches that were already in progress.

Twelve operators now have licences to operate online gambling in the Netherlands. The various different operator associations have clashed over the issue, with the Netherlands Online Gambling Association (NOGA) predicting that a lack of restrictions would lead to just the kind of backlash that’s now being seen.

Operators have since agreed to reduce the number of spots in a single advertising block from three to one. Holland Casino has said that behavioural experts and experts by experience test all its advertisements and that it reduced its television commercials by 60 per cent in January.

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