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Lawmakers in the Netherlands have rejected a proposal for an outright ban on advertising, but have approved two other new measures related to the country’s gambling sector.

Rule change attempt

Last week, members of parliament across three different political parties (Derk Boswijk of the Christian Democratic Appeal, Mirjam Bikker of the Christian Union and Michiel van Nispen of the Socialist Party) each introduced a motion in the Netherlands’ lower house related to the gambling sector.

Boswijk introduced a proposal for a total ban on gambling advertisements – intended to take previously approved legislation to ban all untargeted advertising one step further, and ban all ads across the board, including direct marketing.

Bikker, meanwhile, put forward a motion to introduce cross-operator playing limits for customers, to prevent players simply moving from one operator to another once their play limits have been reached.

Finally, van Nispen introduced a third motion to allow for more severe penalties to be applied to gambling companies not in compliance with local regulations, allowing the regulator to issue fines up to a value of 10% of a company’s turnover.

Ad ban falls through

The proposed outright ban on gambling advertising was supported by the same MPs whose efforts previously saw the introduction of a ban on untargeted advertising – meaning ads were longer be permitted outdoors or on TV and radio.

That ban came into effect in July last year, with a further ban on sports sponsorships by gambling companies set to be enforced from July 2025.

However, when introducing a motion to extend the impact of the ban even further, MP Boswijk said: “The question in advance is whether the minister is open to a total ban on gambling advertisements. 

“Gambling advertisements reach a broad audience of children, young people and young adults, for example through sponsorship on the t-shirts of football teams.”

MP van Nispen also supported the effort, asking minister for legal protection Franc Weerwind: “How can we expand this advertising ban even further?”

The proposal sought to treat gambling advertising in the same way as tobacco ads, via the introduction of a blanket ban across the board.

When the proposal came to be voted on by Dutch MPs across the chamber, however, it fell just short of the 76 votes in favour required to advance its progress.

The proposal received 70 votes in favour, meaning a slim majority of 80 MPs rejected it.

New rules approved

In the other two cases, however, MPs were able to garner sufficient support to advance their proposals to the next step.

MP Bikker’s proposal to introduce cross-operator loss limits was approved by 79 MPs across the chamber, and Bikker therefore requested further information from Minister Weerwind on how the proposal will be implemented.

For his part, Weerwind advised against the introduction of such a limit, and is not legally obliged to implement the notion.

Elsewhere, MP van Niespen’s proposal to introduce harsher penalties for non-compliant operators received broad support across the house, as 102 out of 150 MPs voted in favour of the rule change.

The proposal is intended to ensure that bad actors in the sector are hit with fines “that really hurt,” worth up to 10% of their annual turnover.

Van Niespen also made clear that tougher action still should be taken against those companies which do not prevent repeat violations from taking place.

“As far as we are concerned, permits should also be revoked, for example in the event of recidivism,” he said. 

“Has that ever happened, the withdrawal of a permit? I do not think so. As far as we are concerned: end of story for the cowboys without morals.”

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