As the legislative and public debate around gambling advertising in the newly regulated Dutch market continues, the Minister for Legal Protection has provided an insight into what can be expected.
Conducting an interview with Netherlands financial news outlet FD.nl, Minister for Legal Protection Franc Weerwind of the D66 political party outlined that there will be “sharp, clear standards” on the use of role models in Dutch betting advertisements.
This could have a substantial impact on the extent to which operators can use sporting figures in televised commercials, with the current regulations stating that ads should not target people under the age of 25.
“The law sets standards for the use of role models,” the Minister remarked. “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.”
Developments could increase the scope of advertising restrictions beyond this, however, as Weerwind noted that there has been a “clear call” from both the House of Representatives and Dutch problem a gambling treatment centres for greater marketing limitations.
Notably, in December 2021 a motion was passed in the House calling for a ban on “untargeted advertisements for risky games of chance”, which include television commercials, as well as a daytime ban on all online-based gambling advertisements.
Total Dutch gambling advertising spend hit €23 million by the close of last year, with Weerwind himself stating: “I did notice that the number of gambling advertisements had increased sharply, just like everyone else in the Netherlands.”
This has prompted the Minister to push forward with reform of betting advertising oversight, detailing that he intends to take “short, quick steps” to push his regulatory proposals forward within a year rather than the two years it usually takes.
Commenting on his discussions with gambling treatment centres, he continued: “They have told me that the sheer volume of gambling advertisements leads to unrest among ex-addicts and problematic gambling among people who identify with the role models appearing in the advertisements. That was reason for me not to wait.’
In his short incumbency as Minister for Legal Protection – having taken over from Sander Dekker in January – Weerwind has engaged extensively with the betting and gaming sector on marketing and advertising matters, as did his predecessor.
Notably, the sector has agreed to cease advertising on the radio, outdoors and in print media, and a blackout on betting commercials has been put in place between 10pm and 6am.
However, the Minister has outlined the aforementioned prohibition of the use of “role models” in ads as well as greater restrictions on marketing for online firms.
The surge in online gambling activity in the Netherlands since the introduction of the regulated web-based market on 1 October has led to a “hole” with regards to gambling advertising, he argued.
‘There’s a hole there, I admit that,” Weerwind remarked. “But it is difficult and complex to counteract that. I sometimes think: couldn’t this have been conceived before October 1 last year?
“Anyway, we now live in the reality of mid-March. I investigate the possibilities offered by the law, and how well they can be implemented. I am now looking at a time window for online banners and videos.”
However, despite calls from political representatives and treatment centres for enhanced restrictions on advertising, Weerwind stated that it is still “too early” for a clear link to be made between the rise in gambling advertisements and any rise in gambling addiction.
On the other hand he did maintain that However, the Minister for Legal Protection did emphasise that “there are signs’ ‘ of addiction and social indignation that he will “not ignore”, and argued that the self-restrictive measures introduced by the gambling are indicative that the sector is aware of also aware of potential issues.