The Netherlands and Belgium Introduce an Advertising Ban: New legislation Comes Into Force

In the Netherlands and Belgium, long-awaited legislative changes have come into force, involving the introduction of broad restrictions on advertising rates. Since July 1, both countries have introduced new measures aimed at regulating and restricting betting advertising practices.

For more than a year, work has been carried out on advertising reform in the Netherlands. Belgian Justice Minister Vincent Van Kuickenborn‘s plans for a complete ban on gambling advertising that was first announced in May 2022.

In July, the Netherlands followed Belgium’s lead and announced regulatory reforms to ban inappropriate advertising. 

Supported by Minister for Legal Protections Frank Weerwind, these measures are more moderate than those in Belgium. Starting July 1st, the Dutch Gaming Authority, known as Kansspelautoriteit (KSA), provided an overall scope of the changes, reminding the industry of these reforms.

In general, operators will no longer be able to advertise on TV, radio, newspapers and magazines, and will also be banned from advertising in public areas — such as billboards and bus stops — and in public facilities.

The latter provision means that advertising in gaming casinos, slot machine halls, cinemas and cafes will be prohibited. However, marketing in the online gaming environment may continue, and general online advertising, direct mail, on-demand TV and social media advertising is allowed, subject to strict guidelines.

The KSA (Dutch Gaming Authority) has confirmed to operators that the main purpose of the ban is to protect vulnerable groups, including young people, from the risk of developing gambling addiction. This includes employment restrictions that must be out of the reach of minors, young people and other vulnerable groups. KSA is actively pursuing such a policy, in particular with respect to Holland Casino.

After the introduction of the ban, The KSA stated that it is actively monitoring the application of the new rules and obligations in practice. As with Holland Casino and other operators, KSA actively enforced official licensing requirements through the imposition of fines. For example, bet365’s Hillside New Media Malta was fined €400,000 by the KSA for advertising and offering youth bonuses.

However, when an advertising ban is introduced, the Royal Gaming Authority (KSA) may not apply penalties, at least not immediately.

The government overcame the final hurdle before imposing a ban when a Brussels court ruled that it did not meet the concerns of betting and sports stakeholders.

Several sports representatives have been critical of the proposed ban since the Royal Decree was first presented by Justice Minister Van Kuickenborn in May 2022. Most of the teams in the Belgian professional league have sponsorship agreements with bookmakers and there are fears of the revenue loss.

However, Van Kuickenborn did not give in to such concerns, arguing that the normalization of gambling through advertising should be stopped.
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