The Netherlands House of Representatives adopted a number of motions Thursday aimed at curbing gambling advertising and increasing consumer protections.

Lawmakers considered 10 gambling-related motions, seven of which were ultimately adopted.

The House rejected a motion to allow lotteries to use a different safer gambling message than other gambling operators to reflect the lower risk of lottery products, although it did adopt a motion calling on the government to make a distinction between high-risk and low-risk games in future changes to regulations.

A motion to prohibit credit and loan companies from displaying targeted ads to people who have visited a gambling website was also adopted, although the Minister for Legal Protection, Sander Dekker, said that he would like to see evidence to support this claim.

“The submitter has apparently noticed or heard this, but of course we have to check that carefully first,” he said. “If this happens, I would also find it highly undesirable. It would then be reasonable to act against it.”

Lawmakers also adopted a motion calling on the government to investigate the extent to which young people have started to gamble online as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, and to ban untargeted advertising of “high-risk” games of chance.

The proposed ban on advertising high risk games is in response to the surge in gambling advertising in the Netherlands since the re-regulation of the market in October, with lawmakers noting that the purpose of gambling advertising regulations is to channel consumers to legal offerings, not to increase participation in gambling.

Members of parliament also considered a proposal to require operators to prominently display a responsible gambling message and link to the CRUKS self-exclusion system on their homepages and when starting a new game, and for players registering on the system to be contacted by a care provider.

This motion was adopted, as was a motion to require players to set their own online spending limits.

The author of the motion explained that the proposal is based on scientific research carried out in Britain, which found that players who are given the option to set their own spending limit choose a limit that is up to 50 per cent lower than default spending limits that apply to all players.

The final adopted motion calls on the government to align online advertising regulations with those for broadcast media, with gambling advertising prohibited between the hours of 6am and 9pm.

The House rejected a motion calling on the government to ban transfers to online gaming accounts from third-party accounts on the basis that this is already prohibited under the Gambling Act. It also rejected a motion calling on Minister Dekker to ask commercial broadcasters to prohibit gambling advertising during international sporting events involving Dutch teams.

Dekker explained to the House that he knew from his time as Secretary of State for Media that such a proposal would be unworkable, given the independence of the media, and also noted the voluntary advertising code adopted a day earlier by VNLOK, the trade association for licensed iGaming operators in the Netherlands.

This code would initially be in force until March 1, 2023, with a review of gambling advertising planned for October 2022. The code applies the broadcast advertising restriction times to online advertising and sets a maximum of three broadcast gambling ads per commercial break (high-risk games), with ads limited to a maximum of 30 seconds.

Advertising in programmes and channels that have more than 25 per cent reach among young adults and minors would be banned, as would outdoor advertising in the vicinity of schools, amusement parks, addiction treatment centres or hospitals.

The code also prohibits operators from offering bonuses to players aged 18 to 24, and sets a maximum bonus amount of €250.

Minister Dekker concluded Thursday’s debate by warning operators to reign in gambling advertising or face the consequences.

“I think everyone understands, especially the providers, that when it comes to advertising, there are great political concerns, if not resentment, and that we are just on the verge of when politicians say: we think it’s enough, we intervene,” Dekker said. “The warning to the sector is therefore: keep that in mind. I’d rather they sort it out themselves, among themselves, and think about moderation.”

“I don’t know whether it should go as far as you ask in the motion to ban advertising, but the fact that people are really bombarded with advertisements about online gambling, I think, sooner or later, this will lead to the House intervening,” Dekker warned. “So I say to the sector, avoid that moment. I immediately make that call. Show moderation.”


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