Dutch broadcasters to consider legal challenge against gambling ad ban
Back in July, the Dutch government announced plans to ban all “untargeted” online gambling advertising from January 1, 2023, onward. The proposed ban includes broadcast, outdoor, and print advertising, as well as all online advertising that could reach vulnerable groups.
In response, Dutch broadcasters – which stand to lose tens of millions of euros in future revenues – are now reportedly investigating whether to launch a legal challenge against the proposed ban.
While there is little doubt that a gambling advertising ban introduced through new primary legislation would not violate constitutional or EU law, the Dutch government appears to intend to introduce the proposed advertising ban through a revision of existing lower regulations (the “Decree gambling advertising and gambling addiction prevention”). It is unclear whether this approach would be able to satisfy all legal requirements.
Additionally, advertising for land-based gambling is excluded from the proposed ban, which – as online gambling does not appear to be inherently riskier than land-based gambling – raises concerns regarding the proportionality and horizontal consistency of the proposed online gambling advertising restrictions.
BetCity new sponsor of football talk show “Vandaag inside”
As of this week, BetCity is the new sponsor of Dutch football talk show “Vandaag Inside.” The program's previous sponsor, TOTO, ended its relationship with the popular talk show after one of the show's presenters controversially confessed on air to having raped a woman in the early 1970s.
Over 20,000 individuals registered in CRUKS national exclusion register
Since its opening on October 1, 2021, over 20,000 individuals have been registered in CRUKS, the Dutch national exclusion register, the Netherlands Gambling Authority reports.
A registration in CRUKS means that an individual will be unable to visit any land-based or online gambling venue for a period of at least six months. The vast majority of these registrations are voluntary.
LeoVegas and 888 aim to go live in the Netherlands in H2 2022
LeoVegas and 888 aim to re-enter the Dutch market in the second half of 2022, the companies announced in their respective interim financial reports. Both operators expressed optimism that their license applications would be approved in the coming months.
By contrast, Betway, which applied for a Dutch remote license in April, said that it did not expect to achieve any revenue from the Dutch market in 2022.
Affiliate company Catena Media announced that it would launch a cost-saving operation as a result of “regulatory changes in markets including the UK, Sweden, Germany and, most recently, the Netherlands.”
Holland Casino and VAN Kansspelen urged Dutch regulator to step up enforcement during Covid-19 lockdowns
In early 2021, state-owned operator Holland Casino and trade association VAN Kansspelen made a concerted effort to get the Netherlands Gambling Authority to step up its enforcement efforts against illegal gambling offerings.
Although there is frequent mention of illegal poker tournaments and bingo events, online gambling (which was still illegal at the time) is identified by Holland Casino and VAN Kansspelen as the biggest problem. Both organizations pointed to revenue increases by online operators (and future competitors) Flutter, Kindred, and Betsson.
Despite these efforts, the Netherlands Gambling Authority declined to change its approach to online enforcement as the then-current prioritization criteria were drawn up in response to established government policy.
The Dutch regulator would only change course after a last-minute lobbying effort had succeeded in convincing then-Minister for Legal Protection, Sander Dekker to change the prioritization criteria in September 2021, forcing all future license applicants to temporarily withdraw from the Dutch market.
Betsson CEO: “We had to sit on the sidelines, watching the state-owned companies grabbing market share”
The above-mentioned last-minute change in the Netherlands Gambling Authority's enforcement approach is still a sore point for Betsson CEO Pontus Lindwall, who recently sat down for an interview with iGaming Business. Lindwall:
We had some good revenue from the Netherlands before 2021 as we made an acquisition of a company [Oranje Casino and Kroon Casino] that was accepting Dutch customers a long time ago, when Dutch authorities said that they were going to regulate the market. Obviously the process was much longer and then this cooling-off period took place.
We were not very happy about that because we had to sit on the sidelines, watching the state-owned companies grabbing market share. But now we have filed our application and we are looking forward to being in the licensed market as soon as we can.
Betsson's late market entrance will make things more challenging, Lindwall admitted:
Of course, it will be a challenge for us. We would have been better off if we could have started at the same time as the state businesses, but we will have to cope with the situation, run a very good operation and see where that can take us.
Netherlands Gambling Authority warns lotteries over online game elements
The Netherlands Gambling Authority has warned licensed lottery operators that they should tread carefully when introducing game elements that resemble online gambling, as this could blur the boundaries between high-risk and low-risk forms of gambling. “People who wish to participate in a lottery should not unexpectedly find themselves participating in more risky games of chance,” the Dutch regulator wrote on its website.
The regulator also said that offering lotteries or lottery-related games online is prohibited without exception.
Entain to expand into Central and Eastern Europe
Entain has partnered with EMMA Capital, a leading investment firm based in the Czech Republic, to establish a new venture (“Entain CEE”) to drive expansion in Central and Eastern Europe.
As part of the agreement, Entain will purchase 75% of the shares in Croation market leader SuperSport for €690m. Other acquisitions are expected to follow.
Netherlands Gambling Authority publishes comparative research on operators’ duty of care
The Netherlands Gambling Authority has published a report looking into regulations on gambling operators’ duty of care in 21 European countries.
The study found that half (n=11) of the European countries that took part in the study have a legally prescribed duty of investigation and care, implying that a license holder is formally obliged to monitor the playing behavior of its customers and to intervene if there are signs of problematic behavior. The other countries do not have a legally prescribed duty of investigation and care.
In most countries where operators have a duty of care, the way in which the license holder must fulfill this duty of care is largely left to the license holder itself. In cases where specific approaches are prescribed, e.g., voluntary or mandatory loss or deposit limits, there is little scientific evidence backing up the effectiveness of these measures.
Although useful as a survey of existing practices, the report – apart from a call for mutual consultation and coordination – makes no further recommendations.