Advertising online gambling update
Since the opening of the online gambling market in the Netherlands, a lot of developments have taken place. A ban on the use of role models in advertisements was introduced and the announced ban on untargeted advertising is expected to take effect by 1 July 2023. In addition, a tightening of the rules on the duty of care, in particular playing limits, is on its way.
In this blog, we update you on the recent and expected developments on the Dutch online gambling market.
Ban on untargeted advertising
In summer 2022, the Minister for Legal Protection (Minister voor Rechtsbescherming) published a draft Decree to amend the Decree on Recruitment, Advertising and the Prevention of Addiction to Gambling (Besluit werving, reclame en verslavingspreventie kansspelen; “Marketing Decree”) (“draft Decree”).
The draft Decree introduces a ban on untargeted advertising for online games of chance, as a result of which:
- License holders for online games of chance will no longer be allowed to advertise via TV, radio and in public indoor and outdoor areas;
- Advertisements via the internet and direct mailing will still be possible, but the rules will be tightened further in order to prevent vulnerable groups from being confronted with the advertisements; and
- The use of sponsorship by providers of online games of chance will be prohibited in phases, so that the sports sector can find alternative sponsors:
- Program and event sponsoring will no longer be allowed a year after the ban has entered into force;
- Two years after the entry into force, sports sponsorship and shirt sponsorship will be prohibited.
Advice Council of State
On 2 January 2023, the Advisory Division of the Council of State (Afdeling advisering van de Raad van State; “Advisory Division”) published its advice regarding the ban. In short, the Advisory Division made several comments:
- The Advisory Division recommends explaining in the explanatory memorandum why a ban on untargeted advertising is necessary at this time – before the 2024 evaluation and numeric insight – and how the draft Decree relates to advertising policy for other potentially addictive activities, such as smoking and alcohol;
- Several parts of the draft Decree are not yet sufficiently developed, such as:
- what is meant by the ‘demonstrable measures’ to prevent internet advertising from coming to the attention of vulnerable groups;
- who are subject to the ban;
- the remaining scope for untargeted advertising for land-based providers; and
- to the extent that the government is pushing for the use of algorithms, it does not explain how this relates to the General Data Protection Regulation (Algemene verordening gegevensbescherming).
The Advisory Division thus expressed several concerns which the Minister should reconsider.
Expected publication of the ban
While the ban was meant to enter into force on 1 January 2023, the decree to amend the Marketing Decree has not been published yet. On 22 March 2023, the Minister gave an update on the expected entry into force of the ban on untargeted advertising: the ban will enter into force no later than 1 July 2023. The reason for the delay is the implementation of the advice of the Advisory Division, specifically the feedback regarding the proportionality and the enforceability. The Decree is expected to be published soon.
- General advertising will be prohibited from 1 July 2023, such as advertising on TV, radio, cinema’s, on websites and platforms;
- There is a transitional period for existing contracts that meet the requirements until 1 October 2023.
- Advertising around sports (in stadium’s) will be prohibited from 1 January 2025;
- (Shirt) sponsoring of professional clubs will be prohibited from 1 January 2028, strict rules apply from 1 January 2025 – 31 December 2027; and
- (Shirt) sponsorship for non-professional sports clubs will still be allowed, but under strict rules (50cm² per advertisement).
Professional sports clubs have announced in the press that they will start litigation against the ban in Belgium.
Cap for playing limits being drafted
The Minister is currently working out a framework for a cap for playing limits. In the first quarter of 2023, the Minister consulted with various parties, such as addiction experts, the Ksa and banks to see how tightening the playing limits can be more protective, which will be worked out in regulations. The Minister aims to have a draft ready in the first half of 2023. Parliament will be informed this spring on its contours. In addition, the Minister will start a pilot in cooperation with operators and scientists to arrive at behavioural interventions that will make players set lower limits.
Extension Advertising Code Online Gambling until 1 June 2023
The board of the Advertising Code Foundation (Stichting Reclame Code) has extended the validity of the Advertising Code Online Games of Chance (Reclamecode Online Kansspelen; “ROK”) until 1 June 2023. The reason for the extension is the pending comprehensive evaluation of the ROK and the expected government measures against untargeted advertising for online games of chance.
Initially, the ROK was valid until 1 March 2023.
The government publishes interim report on Key Figures Addiction Care 2016-2021
On 16 March 2023, the government published the interim report on Key figures Addiction Care 2016-2021 (Tussenrapportage Kerncijfers Verslavingszorg 2016-2021; “report”). The report shows that there is a slight decrease in number and proportion of persons seeking help for gambling problems from 2016-2021. This decrease is also visible for 2022 from a survey of addiction institutions.