Dutch minister pledges new rules within a year amid spike in gambling ads

There have been calls to ban gambling ads completely.
There have been calls to ban gambling ads completely.

Legislative debate continues as the Dutch regulator reports a peak of 40 gambling ads per hour on television. 

The Netherlands.- The Dutch minister for legal protection has promised new rules setting “sharp, clear standards” as controversy continues over the quantity of gambling ads since the launch of regulated online gambling in October.

In an interview with the Dutch news site FD.nl, Franc Weerwind said there was evidence of gambling operators “stretching the boundaries” of the current rules.

Dutch politicians have been calling for a ban on gambling ads due to their “proliferation” since the regulated market went live. The Dutch gambling regulator Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) last week reported that the frequency of gambling ads on television had peaked at an average of 40 per hour between 11pm and midnight.

Weerwind doesn’t seem inclined to propose a total ban but he said restrictions would be tightened. He said there had been a “clear call” from politicians and problem gambling treatment centres to tighten restrictions, and that new legislation would be pushed through within a year rather than the usual two years. 

A clampdown on the use of role models in gambling ads

Current regulations prevent operators from using role models that appeal to people aged under 25, but Weerwind, who replaced Sander Dekker in the role in January, has suggested operators are interpreting that too openly and that the government will move to ban the use of role models completely.

He said: “The law sets standards for the use of role models. They should not be aimed at young people who are 25 years of age or younger. But we see that the sector is stretching the boundaries. 

“They don’t use a well-known footballer of the moment, but ex-footballers who are still very popular with a young audience. My conclusion is that we need to set sharp, clear standards. So we’re going to stop role models.”

The gambling sector itself feared a backlash over ads from the start – the Netherlands Online Gambling Association (NOGA) predicting just that. Yet a race for market presence still led to an oversaturation. Operators have since agreed to drop radio, outdoor and print ads.

The KSA’s view on gamblng ads in the Netherlands

The KSA’s view is that gambling ads are necessary but that operators need to “take responsibility” for their frequency. It found that between October and December, an average of more than 35 gambling adverts were shown between 9pm and 10pm and more than 40 per hour between 11pm and midnight (gambling ads cannot be shown between 6am and 9pm). 

Most were adverts for lotteries and online gambling platforms. The total number of gambling brand exposures on television between 11pm and midnight, including billboards shown during sports matches, averaged 120 per hour.

The regulator cited data from Nielsen that finds operators spent almost €30m on advertising in December, falling to €20m in January. Lottery was the highest spending sector, while online gaming accounted for €8.6m in advertising.

KSA chairman René Jansen said: “The objective of the modernisation of the gambling policy is to channel players from illegal to legal offerings. This cannot be done without advertising. It is up to the industry themselves to implement this in a careful and responsible manner.

“It’s a balancing act between knowing yourself on the one hand and, on the other hand, causing irritation. The role of the KSA is limited in the current regulations.”

The KSA has so far issued warnings to operators over gambling ads appearing on websites aimed at minors and for promotions during sports matches that were in play.

In this article:
Gambling gambling regulation