Dutch Council of State: Unclear Evidence Makes Ad Ban Unlikely by April

Dutch politicians’ plans to heavily regulate betting and gambling advertising have been criticized by the government’s chief adviser on national policy, the Raad van State (Council of State).

According to Gaming in Holland, one of two Dutch gambling associations along with NOGA, the council questioned the validity, not the legality, of the proposed ban.

According to a roadmap prepared by the Dutch Minister of Legal Protection, Franc Weerwind, non-targeted advertising, that is, advertising available to a wide range of consumers, was to be phased out this month.

Providers will no longer be able to advertise on television, radio, indoor and outdoor public places, online marketing requirements will be tightened, and sports sponsorship will be banned by the end of 2025.

Criticizing the bill, Dr. Alan Littler, gambling lawyer at Kalff Katz & Franssen, said: «The criticism is not really directed at the restriction itself, but towards the underlying reasoning and explanations given.

In many instances the Council’s critique is that the explanatory memorandum is potentially confusing and will give rise to a lack of legal certainty. Thus, a first reading would suggest that the Council is telling the Ministry to ‘explain itself better’ rather than calling for a wholesale re-think of the ban.»

The regulated online marketplace in the Netherlands has only been active for about 15 months, so there is currently no reason to support such a broad ban on advertising, the council argues.

However, since the launch of the regulated gambling market on October 1, 2021, some politicians, such as Weerwind, have noted a significant surge in betting advertising across multiple media channels, fueling calls for regulation.

According to initial data in July 2022, the ban on inappropriate advertising was originally scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2023.

After increased political pressure on the Dutch betting and gambling industry, Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) chairman René Jensen urged license holders to refrain from heavy advertising during the World Cup, as politicians have said.

However, it is estimated that there are no clear plans to ban inappropriate advertising. «It would be a miracle if the current proposals could enter into force before April 1.»
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