Dutch minister for legal protection Franc Weerwind said that industry self-regulation through trade associations has an important but “ultimately limited” effect on gambling advertising.
The minister made the comments in response to questions from members of parliament.
This comes as the country approaches the upcoming 1 July ban on “untargeted” gambling advertising.
The new measures will prevent gambling businesses from advertising on television, on radio or in other settings where it is not possible to prevent vulnerable groups – such as children – from seeing it.
The minister argued that, while self-regulation has a role to play in restricting advertising, it is not sufficient to properly restrict the reach of gambling advertisements. According to Weerwind, this is because not all operators are bound by the self-imposed measures, leading to many smaller businesses not respecting the rules agreed to by the trade body.
This has meant – despite an internal industry push to restrict outdoor advertising – such ads remain common in the Netherlands. Weerwind said that it was important to “bind all parties” to the necessary restrictions and that further tightening is needed in the Recruitment, Advertising and Addiction Prevention of Games of Chance Decree, the ministerial decree that implemented the provisions of the Netherland’s gaming law, the Remote Gaming Act (KOA).
Despite the planned ad bans, the minister also said that channelisation concerns remained key.
He argued that it was important to balance protection of vulnerable groups with the need to ensure that enough ads remained directing consumers to legal offerings. Weerwind said that the Italian market, which has a total ad ban in place, has shown that such measures act to boost the size of the illegal market.
“With regard to advertising, it is therefore necessary to strike a balance between the protection of vulnerable groups and the importance of channelling it towards a legal offer,” he said. “That is why I closely monitor developments in the field of remote games of chance.”
Prior to the minister’s announcement that the ban would be implemented 1 July, the government originally intended for the measure to take place on 1 January. The government later delayed the measure to February or March 2023, before finally settling on the July date. His parliamentary colleagues questioned Weerwind on why the ban had taken so long to implement and had been subject to so many delays.
Weerwind said that the issue related to a number of points in the direction that required more detail. For example, he said that the initial text did not sufficiently explain what operators were and were not expected to do, as well what the difference between targeted and untargeted advertising was in that context.
“In connection with this, amendment of the explanation and the draft decision was desirable,” said the minister. “This requires care, in which proportionality and feasibility are preconditions. The ban on untargeted advertising for online games of chance will be adopted soon.”
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