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Stricter laws still to come for the Dutch iGaming industry

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The Dutch Minister is increasing efforts to bring in stricter laws on gambling advertisements due to concerns.


Regulatory bodies everywhere are increasing focus on the gaming industry and safety gambling measurements.

A big concern for the Netherlands is gambling advertisements with new laws already restricting advertising times. A cause for concern is the explosion of ads since the new licensed framework was introduced just last year.

Stricter laws are still to come

The Dutch Minister for Legal Protection, Franc Weerwind, says that further restrictions on gambling advertising are on the way.

The Minister has outlined plans for new restrictions that are set to become law later this year. This is after the parliament recently approved a motion for banning all gambling advertisements led by Socialist Party MP Michiel van Nispen.

The Minister addressed Nispen and other lawmakers in a letter stating that he will make every effort to increase restrictions on advertising for high-risk games of chance as soon as possible.

The current gambling laws for the Netherlands state that no gambling advertisements can appear on television between 06:00 and 21:00 daily. The data shows that monthly advertisement spending peaked at €30 million for the gambling sector in December 2021. It came down to €20 million in January 2022 but the lottery sector is the highest spending of all.

A report by the Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) shows that the average number of gambling advertisements on Dutch television peaks at more than 40 hours. It also shows that from October to December 2021 more than 35 gambling adverts were shown between 21:00 and 22:00. The numbers increase to more than 40 between 23:00 and midnight.

According to the KSA, research reveals it shows that most of the adverts are from lotteries and Dutch online gambling platforms.

Protecting the vulnerable

The Minister is also collaborating with industry groups such as the Vergunde Nederlandse Online Kansspelaanbieders (VNLOK) and Netherlands Online Gambling Association (NOGA). They are working on putting in place a range of measures that will limit advertising and protect the vulnerable.

The new regulatory measures will limit untargeted advertising for Dutch online games of chance to the shortest time possible. A big reason for the hasty new additions to the restrictions is growing concern regarding problem gamblers and how advertising affects them.

According to Weerwind, talks with addiction centres have brought to light the problems that these large masses of gambling ads cause for recovering addicts. Licensed operators already got a warning from KSA Chairman, René Jansen, in January to reduce their advertising as it indicated that the frequency and amount of advertisements were too much.

Last month the KSA handed warnings to a few operators regarding their advertising policies. The biggest issue is that their activities are a lure to try online gambling for minors and young adults.

Gambling addiction researcher, Leroy Snippe states that the defences are not yet in place and all the advertisements available it’s simply telling people that “gambling is a party”.

A smaller Dutch market than expected

Jansen shared that early data on the Dutch iGaming market shows that it may be smaller than first expected. When considering that a total of 634,000 accounts have been created between October 2021 and March 2022, as well as taking into account multi-account play, the number of players in the market may be much lower than first expected.

“Please note: this does not mean that there are so many players (on legal sites) in the Netherlands,” commented Jansen on the reveal. “An unknown number of players have an account with several providers. So there are (probably considerably) fewer than 634,000. This is an important insight because earlier estimates have been made of approximately 1 million Dutch people who – occasionally or more often – participate in games of chance on the internet.”

While the numbers may have seemed inflated at first, the Dutch regulator has seen to is that a large number of operators without licenses no longer provide their services to players in the country. This alone would knock down the player estimates.

The heat is on

According to Weerwind law changes in the Netherlands can take up to two years. When pressure is applied it might be possible to bring it down to a year. But no promises can be made regarding this.

Weerwind also mentioned that a certain amount of advertisement is necessary to guide players towards legal online offerings. This plays a big role in deterring players from wandering off toward unregulated sites.

Until the new regulations are in place many in the online gaming industry have already committed to voluntary advertising restrictions.

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