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Netherlands Gambling Authority (KSA) chairman René Jansen has urged operators to advertise carefully in the country’s newly regulated iGaming market as “political patience when it comes to this subject is very limited”.

In a blog post released on the regulator’s website today (6 January), Jansen said the KSA would enter a new phase in its supervision of the industry in 2022, with increased checks on operator activity expected as the market becomes more established.

Jansen said the amount of iGaming advertising seen since the market’s launch last October was already “causing quite a stir” among politicians, with the nation’s House of Representatives passing several motions calling on the government to put an end to gambling advertising.

The Dutch government’s incoming new cabinet, which is formed of a four-party coalition and will be sworn in on 10 January, will soon have to adopt a position on the question of iGaming marketing, Jansen said.

Notably, it was confirmed in December that current Minister for Legal Protection Sander Dekker, who was responsible for drafting the nation’s iGaming legislation — and who voted against a motion to issue a national ban on all untargeted iGaming advertising last month — will not return to his ministerial position when the new cabinet is sworn in.

Dekker will now be replaced by Dutch politician and Mayor of Almere Franc Weerwind.

A large majority of the House of Representatives voted for the motion, however, stating that customers are spending more time on gambling websites, and are faced with a large number of untargeted gambling ads across all forms of media.

Jansen took a more measured approach than the outright ban suggested by the nation’s politicians. He said in the blog post: “In the run-up to the legalisation of online games of chance, I have repeatedly pointed out the importance of moderation and responsible behaviour by providers.”

Pointing to political action in other jurisdictions, where harsh restrictions have been imposed on the advertising efforts of gambling operators, Jansen suggested the industry should encourage self-regulation and moderation in how it targets Dutch customers.

“Everyone understands that some degree of advertising is needed to entice players to switch from illegal to legal providers,” he said. “But don’t overdo it, I would say. Otherwise the shore turns the ship.”

Jansen offered thanks to the outgoing Minister Dekker for making “gaming history” during his tenure.

Since the launch of legalised iGaming in the Netherlands, 11 operators have been granted a licence. So far, the KSA has not hesitated to use its powers to clamp down on what it considers unlawful or irresponsible advertising.

The regulator issued its first warning to one of the jurisdiction’s licensed operators in December, after finding it had “hidden” links to its own website on a football news and odds portal. When users clicked on the odds, they were directed “unsuspectingly”, the regulator ruled, to the operator’s sportsbook product. 

The links were subsequently removed and no further action was taken in this case. 

Also in December, the KSA took regulatory action against 15 affiliates after a total of 22 investigations discovered that performance marketing firms had advertised the services of unlicensed offshore operators to Dutch residents.

The regulator has also shown its desire to maximise channelisation rates by investigating and shutting down any operator websites offering iGaming to Dutch residents without a licence. In November, 25 sites were selected for investigation, with a view to imposing sanctions on any operator engaging in unlicensed activities.

A minimum fine of €600,000 was suggested for such an offence, increasing to 4% of turnover for any operator with annual revenue in excess of €15m.

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