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The Netherlands Gaming Authority (KSA) has revealed the scope of its ongoing investigation into the affiliate marketing of unlicensed gambling operators.

The regulator last year conducted two investigations into the advertising of offshore gambling operators via two channels; affiliate websites and online newspapers.

The KSA discovered that through these channels, Dutch consumers were being enticed to gamble with unlicensed providers.

Some of the marketing material was deliberately aimed at at-risk players who had previously blocked themselves from gambling through the country’s self-exclusion system CRUKS.

The KSA eventually discovered that 14 of the 33 investigated websites were in violation of existing marketing laws.

It further described the practice of targeting self-excluded players as “very harmful”.

Affiliates promote unlicensed operators

One investigation focused on content that tempted consumers to play with unlicensed operators through advertising on affiliate websites.

According to the KSA, four of the Netherlands’ most visited affiliate websites were found to be in breach of advertising guidelines.

The regulator has ignited a follow-up investigation as the identity of the companies and owners behind the websites could not be established.

The investigation further explored the impact of the Netherlands’ ban on untargeted advertising, including how unlicensed operators might be taking advantage of the law.

“It was expected that from July 2023, illegal providers would try to take advantage of the possible reduced visibility of legal providers,” said the KSA in a statement.

After looking into various reports of advertising by offshore operators and affiliates, 10 websites were considered to be in violation.

Five of those 10 immediately ceased prohibited marketing activity after being threatened with a sanction by the KSA.

An investigation into the other five websites is ongoing.

This specific study also revealed that seven offshore casinos were being advertised. The KSA has since started a sanctions process against all seven providers, it said.

Newspapers cease offshore advertising

Lastly, six online newspapers were instructed to stop promoting the services of unlicensed online gambling providers.

All parties are understood to have taken immediate action and are no longer hosting adverts for the blacklisted providers.

Starting on 1 July 2023, licensed operators in the Netherlands were banned from advertising on TV, radio and in public spaces, both indoor and outdoor.

The ban will also apply to sports sponsorships from July 2025.

The KSA has listed combatting unlicensed providers as a key strategic priority for 2024.

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