Social media influencers based in Estonia are potentially looking at stricter regulations surrounding the online advertisement of products and services that require a minimum age check such as alcohol and gambling.
This was made clear after the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications announced that it is currently drafting a bill that will introduce amendments to the regulatory framework monitoring gambling adverts.
The current Advertising Act bill is closing in on its two-decade mark after being passed back in 2008 when social media was far less prominent in society.
Estonia held its general elections last year which saw the leading Reform Party forming a coalition with the Social Democrats and the Eesti 200 Party as a result of the election race for the Riigikogu. Kaja Kallas continued her duties as the country’s Prime Minister.
From its inauguration, the new coalition government sought to change the country’s gambling laws by first exploring different avenues on how to limit gambling advertising, with talks of a potential blanket ban setting off in April last year.
Shortly after, in May the Estonian Ministry of Finance constructed a draft proposal recommending that the government raise the gambling tax based on ‘significant online revenue growth’ between 2020 and 2022.
Forming part of the Coalition government’s new ‘Tax Law’, in 2024 Estonia will increase taxes on online gambling and lotteries from 5-to-6% of income. The Tax Law further proposes that the government review increasing gambling taxes to 7% by 2026.
Going back to the latest developments on advertising, the need for changes to the regulatory regime was further amplified by the fact that the Advertising Act is more fitted for traditional media rather than the current digital age, as highlighted by Merike Koppel, Head of Business Environment at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications.
She added: “The regulation of old channels is not appropriate in the context of social media. In our opinion, it is more ‘future-proof’ to regulate content in a channel-neutral manner.
“For example, influencers were an unknown phenomenon when the current law was drafted, but at the same time in our present-day world, they can be very high-profile individuals, while their actions actually do influence things too.
“As a result, plenty of questions have arisen for the influencers themselves, but equally supervisory authorities want a solid basis on how to comprehend, regulate and evaluate these influential individuals.
“We want to fulfill the goal so that the interests of vulnerable target groups and consumers are protected, while still allowing firms the opportunity to market their products and services,” Koppel concluded.
In November, Estonia raised the financial penalties for breaching the Advertising Act from €50,000 to €400,000 for the illegal promotion of alcohol and gambling products, but no significant violations have been registered yet.
Estonian operators have been warned that in 2024 the government will continue to review its gambling laws to improve market standards and safeguards protecting national consumers.
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