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Dutch Lower House unexpectedly calls for ban on majority of gambling advertising

On Thursday, the Dutch Lower House adopted several motions that are likely to lead to significant additional gambling advertising restrictions, including a motion that calls on the Dutch government to introduce a ban on “indiscriminate” gambling advertising.

While the term “indiscriminate” remains undefined in the adopted motion, it would almost certainly include all broadcast and most online gambling advertising. It seems likely that future permitted gambling advertising would require some sort of opt-in action by the viewer, for instance by visiting a certain website or social media channel. The ban would not apply to lottery advertising.

The adoption of the motion came as a surprise to most observers, perhaps even the MPs themselves, as one of the motion's co-sponsors also proposed a less far-reaching ban on broadcast gambling advertising during international athletic events, which was subsequently made irrelevant by the more general and wide-ranging ban on all “indiscriminate” advertising.

Although motions are formally non-binding and do not have the status of legislation, Dutch governments only rarely ignore the expressed wishes of Parliament, even when, as in this particular case, the government remains opposed.

Still, it remains quite uncertain how, exactly, a ban on indiscriminate gambling advertising would be implemented.

Since the opening of the Dutch regulated online market on October 1, there has been a significant (and growing) public and political backlash against increasing gambling advertising volumes. Ironically, state-owned Nederlandse Loterij (NLO) and Holland Casino together have been responsible for more than half of all broadcast gambling advertising in the months of October and November.

The announcement on Tuesday of a new advertising code by the trade association VNLOK, of which NLO and Holland Casino are the most prominent members, came as too little, too late.

Other motions that were adopted during Thursday's debate include calls to introduce:

  • A ban on displaying personalized loan ads after visitors leave gambling websites.

  • A new obligation for licensed operators to prominently display a reference to the national exclusion register CRUKS on their main page and when starting a game.

  • A ban on online gambling advertising between the hours of 06:00 and 21:00, similar to broadcast watershed hours.

  • An obligation for players to personally determine and state deposit limits when registering with a licensed operator.

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