The Netherlands to ban use of role models in gambling ads

The ban will come into force at the end of this month.

The Netherlands.- Dutch MPs have been calling for new restrictions on gambling ads for some time due to complaints of saturation following the launch of the regulated igaming market in October. The minister for legal protection Franc Weerwind has asked for patience amid calls for time limits and a ban on untargeted ads, insisting that advertising is required to channel players to the new legal offering.

But now the gambling regulator de Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) has announced that gambling operators will be prohibited from using any role models in adverts. The ban will come into effect from June 30.

The KSA has sent letters out to operators and advertising bodies advising them of the new rule. It said that it will monitor operators’ marketing activity to check they comply with the ban and will take enforcement action if needed.

Meanwhile, Weerwind continues to urge caution on the next phase of gambling reforms. In parliament this week, he was asked if he agreed with Belgian justice minister Vincent Van Quickenborne’s description of “gambling as the new smoking” and that advertising should be banned.

Weerwind said the government was observing advertising closely but that he didn’t identify with Van Quickenborne’s statement. He said new measures will be proposed in the autumn.

He said: “The protection of vulnerable people is better guaranteed by legal providers than illegal providers. Where even better protection appears to be necessary, as is the case with advertising for games of chance, we will take measures.”

MPs and addiction experts have urged the government to ban “irritating and misleading” ads which they say have taken over evening television advertising slots since the Netherlands launched its regulated online gambling market on October 2 last year.

Operators spent €23m on gambling ads in the first two months after the regulated market launched. In December, MPs voted in favour of a motion calling for an end to what they described as an “unguided barrage” of untargeted ads.

In April, the KSA launched an investigation into the targeting of gambling advertising at minors and young people aged between 18 and 24. It requested information from licensed operators on whether they have sent ads to minors and young people.

Operators were told they must inform the KSA if they had sent emails, bonus offers, push messages or any other communication to under 25s. The KSA also asked social media companies to report cases of gambling advertising aimed at young people appearing on their platforms.

It’s placed a form on its website for reports to be made. The move came after the KSA warned operators over ads aimed at young people in February after finding that three operators intended to advertise on platforms mainly used by young people.


Dutch regulator probes possible self-exclusion violations

The KSA says it has had several complaints of land-based gaming halls allowing entry to players who had self-excluded.

The Netherlands.- De Kansspelautoriteit (KSA), the Netherlands’ gambling regulator, is investigating possible breaches of the Dutch self-exclusion system. It’s received complaints from players that land-based gaming halls allowed them to play slots despite being registered on the self exclusion system, Centraal Register Uitsluiting Kansspelen (Cruks).

Some of those who complained said they were able to access slot halls with no issues raised, while others had their Cruks registration noted but ignored.

According to the Netherlands’ gambling regulations, all licensees in the regulated market, both online and land-based, must check whether a player is registered on Cruks before allowing them to play. The system was launched last October on the opening of the new regulated online gambling market. The launch of the new market was held up by a day due to a technical error with the system.

Players can register on Cruks themselves but they can also be referred by friends, family or operators themselves if they have concerns that the person may be suffering gambling harm. The KSA said it may impose sanctions if it identifies any breaches of the rules.

It said: “Failure to check players or ignore a Cruks registration is very serious. These players registered with Cruks precisely because they have problems with gambling and do not have control.”

In December, the KSA asked licensed gaming operators to run checks on their customer bases to make sure that no players were registered with Cruks after it detected an error that allowed some players that had signed up to access online gambling.

The regulator said operators should check players who signed up between October 2 and 20, which were the first three weeks of the operations for the new regulated online gambling market.

Players who sign up to the Cruks self-exclusion system shouldn’t be able to register for new gaming accounts with licensed operators or access regulated online gambling, but the KSA detected that an error appears to have allowed players to open accounts in that initial period.

The KSA said the error may have been caused if customers made a mistake when entering their citizen service number (BSN), name or date of birth. As such, the regulator says operators should consult Cruks to make sure the correct information is inputted and that Cruks-registered players are blocked from accessing gaming.

The Netherlands to ban use of role models in gambling ads
Meanwhile, the KSA has announced that gambling operators will be prohibited from using any role models in adverts. The ban will come into effect from June 30.

The KSA has sent letters out to operators and advertising bodies advising them of the new rule. It said that it will monitor operators’ marketing activity to check they comply with the ban and will take enforcement action if needed.


Italian MEP raises questions on EU esports regulation after ADM clampdown

Marco Zanni has asked the EU Parliament to verify whether the Italian regulator’s closure of esports venues conflicts with EU rules.

Italy.- An Italian MEP has sought clarification of the EU’s position on esports events after Italy’s customs and monopolies agency, ADM, which regulates gambling in the country, closed down three esports venues in April. He fears the ADM’s actions may hinder free-market competition between companies from different EU states

The ADM’s clampdown, which has been dubbed LAN-gate, has been criticised by organisers. They say it was triggered by Sergio Milesi, chief executive of Italian amusement arcade operator LED SRL, in a bid to stifle competition while the company prepares to launch its own venues.

LAN (local area network) events are in-person esports events in which everyone participating plays on the same local network. Italian MEP Marco Zanni, president of the EU parliamentary group Identity and Democracy, said there was a risk of EU member states creating regulatory divergences in the LAN and esports sector and has asked the EU what it plans to do to differentiate esports from gambling.

He told the EU Parliament: “Over the last few years, there has been a sharp increase in the phenomenon of esports – electronic competitions organised on video games. As a result, there has been a growth in the number of LAN lounges and esports bars; meeting places where the highest quality hardware is available for the public to play at high performance in environments that promote sociability and integration.”

He detailed the particular case of Italy, explaining: “On April 29, 2022, in Italy, the Customs and Monopoly Agency arranged for the seizure of gaming equipment at three LAN-lounges, claiming a lack of compliance with legislation that applies to VLT and similar devices but which cannot be applied to PCs and consoles normally used for consumer and esports videogames.”

He went on to ask: “Considering that in the European Union there is currently no specific legislation regulating esports in general or LAN rooms, and that to date the only country that has introduced a law to distinguish between esports and gambling is France; considering also the technological advancement of the sector, which in Europe employs about 87,000 people and the importance it has assumed in the European market, can the Commission clarify whether it is aware of the problem encountered in Italy and if it believes that the decision taken by the ADM is contrary to the rules of the internal market?“

He also asked for clarification about whether “there is no risk, without a Community directive, of having member states with significant regulatory divergences in a sector that, being digitally native, tends to be without territorial barriers”.

Finaly Zanni asked what actions the EU plans “to regulate the sector, in such a way as to distinguish esports from gambling and to avoid the creation of competition between companies in different states on the basis of local legislation, placing those that are growing in dominant positions in states with more modern regulation”.

Italian gaming reorganisation
In February, Italy’s Ministry of Economy and Finance drafted a preliminary reorganisation plan to revamp market safeguards in Italy’s betting market. It came as operators continued to wait for a definitive answer from the Customs and Monopolies Agency (ADM) on licence expirations.

The plan mentions reducing stake and win limits, but does not go into detail on the amounts or what verticals they would apply to. It also wants to impose a central player registry with which all problem-gambling self-exclusion schemes and licensed operators must integrate.

Meanwhile, Italy’s undersecretary for sports Valentina Vezzali is currently seeking to convince the country’s fiscal ministries of her proposal for a permanent 1 per cent tax on sports betting revenue.