Netherlands aim to limit gambling ads

Written by:
Aaron Goldstein
Published on:

The Dutch government is putting a stop to the torrent of gambling ads that flooded Dutch citizens. After opening the market in October 2021, casinos and sportsbooks have been vying over (potential) Dutch players.

For months, these players were bombarded with marketing messages from the relatively few players in the market. With non-players and at-risk players as collateral damage, the Dutch government is putting a stop to all marketing efforts less than a year after casinos came online.  

According to OnlineCasinoGround, the ban on advertisements will start in 2023 and follows a long debate on the responsibility and self-regulation of casinos. While casinos and other stakeholders already put safeguards in place (limiting the amount of casino ads per commercial break, for example), the general public did not appreciate these newcomers drawing attention.  

It’s not just the online casinos that will suffer from this ban. Several media outlets have explored ways to counter the ban, as it will affect television and radio stations. Especially with the self-imposed limit on the amount of ads per commercial break, casinos pay a premium for their commercials.  

The Dutch public network advertisement agency, STER, estimates the effects of such a ban: “It’s hard to precisely predict [what the financial implications will be], but my estimates are a loss of income between 2 and 5 million [euros]. In today’s highly competitive market, that’s the extra profit of the premium slots for gambling companies.”   

Protecting players worldwide   

The Netherlands is hardly the first place where this debate has resulted in a ban. In May 2022, Belgium announced a complete ban on all forms of advertising. The country followed Spain and Italy, and the United Kingdom is working on a similar ban alongside the Netherlands.  

The Dutch gambling license is one of the strictest in the world. Through age limits for bonuses (between 18 and 24, people can play but not be incentivized through bonuses), nation-wide player registrations, and designated time slots for the Dutch online casino advertisements on TV, the industry already experienced marketing challenges.  

These latest developments are also driven from the perspective of protecting the few, as can be seen in a statement from Franc Weerwind, the Dutch minister of Justice: 

“Today, we’ve taken an important step towards further restricting gambling ads. Advertisements are a way to introduce players to the legal offer [of online gambling avenues], but the responsibility of preventing gambling addictions is a priority. This decision should especially protect at-risk groups, such as young people.”   

Aside from a ban on advertising, the Dutch government has already banned the use of role models in commercials. In an effort to create goodwill and curtail possible future decisions, the industry itself decided to stop outdoor advertising through posters.  

To minimize the devastating effects the ban will have on sports teams and venues, a separate path is established to phase out a specific sports-related advertising ban. In 2024, a ban on sponsoring events will go into force, followed by a ban on shirt sponsorships in 2025. This gives sports clubs and venues two and a half years to change their course.   



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