The Netherlands launched its licensed online gambling market on 1 October, effectively legalizing online casino and sports bets made over the internet. Ahead of the opening, Dutch trade associations Vergunde Nederlandse Online Kansspelaanbieders (VNLOK) and VAN Kansspelen teamed up to publish a new code of conduct that will also regulate gambling advertising. The code of conduct was expected to be released on Oct 1 but it missed the deadline.
VNLOK chair Helma Lodders explained that the code is yet to be finalized, but assures that the operators are required to follow the rules in its draft. Lodders adds that this new code of conduct is meant to protect online gambling consumers, as well as its operators and advertisers.
From the draft code, what’s noticeable is the strictness surrounding the use of language in Dutch gambling ads. Advertisers are not allowed to use phrasing that would compel users to act immediately, which could lead to what the trade bodies consider to be “undesirable behaviour”. Marketing words like “hurry”, “now” and “chance” are off limits as they can be highly suggestive and prey on consumers’ compulsive behaviours.
Additionally, the draft code specifies that broadcast and print media, including billboards, cannot display bonuses. Consumers also need to be made aware that there are very real risks to gambling and addiction. Advertisers are not allowed to package gambling as essential or an escape to people’s problems.
Tighter Restrictions for All Gambling Advertisements
The Netherlands Online Gambling Association (NOGA) also recently aired out their concerns over gambling advertising in the country as a whole, not just in the online market. NOGA publicly objected to the number of gambling ads allowed and called to reduce it from its maximum of three (3), which the trade body considers excessive.
Currently, this number is only applicable to ads from online operators. NOGA wants to expand it to land-based casinos as well to reduce consumers’ exposure to gambling ads.
The new code of conduct, which currently only applies to online gambling including sports betting, was scheduled to be published alongside the launch of the country’s regulated online gambling market. However, a technical malfunction forced licensed operators to go live on October 2 instead of October 1.
So far, only ten operators are servicing Dutch consumers, including Bet365, Tombola and Holland Casino. Other operators are still waiting for the go signal, while the rest of the online gambling market awaits the finalized version of the code of conduct for advertising.