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Starting from 1 July 2023, iGaming operators in the Netherlands will be prohibited 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 new law specifically targets advertising for online games of chance. The purpose of the ban is to protect young people under 24 and other vulnerable groups from gambling-related harm.

Dutch Minister for Legal Protection Franc Weerwind first proposed the ban in July 2022.

The ban was originally scheduled to be implemented from 1 January 2023, but was delayed by several months due to the time required to process public consultation responses on the changes.

Rise in gambling ads after market launch

The Ministry of Justice and Security stressed the decision was made to ban above-the-line marketing of games of chance due to a significant increase in gambling advertising after the opening of the regulated market in October 2021.

The government said studies it has conducted have since proved that the risk of addiction is higher in online gambling than in land-based variants due to several factors, such as the lack of direct contact between the player and the provider and the immediate availability of the games.

Transitional period for sport sponsorships

Sports sponsorship agreements, including the sponsorship of athletes and teams, as well as clubs, competitions, shirts, and other materials, will have a transitional period of two years.

The government acknowledged that “a ban on sponsorship has far-reaching financial implications for sport”.

For this reason, clubs are given more time to fulfil existing agreements and to look for new commercial partners.

Existing agreements for all other forms of sponsorship, including TV programmes and events, will have a one-year transitional period.

Furthermore, advertising for so-called less risky games of chance, such as lotteries, will not be allowed between 6am and 7pm.

Ads for high-risk games of chance, meanwhile, can only be broadcast after 9pm. This includes promotions for retail and online sports betting, as well as land-based casinos and slot machine halls.

Online advertising guidance

While targeted online advertising is still allowed, several new conditions have been established.

Companies that display gambling adverts must allow users to opt out of seeing them.

Moreover, companies will be required to ensure that people vulnerable to gambling addiction do not see their adverts.

They must also prove that at least 95% of their advertising reaches people who are over 24.

The same rules apply to social media, video-on-demand and direct mail campaigns.

NOGA reaction

Peter-Paul de Goeij, the managing director of the Netherlands Online Gambling Association (NOGA), supports the decision to protect young adults and vulnerable groups. However, he emphasised the importance of advertising in directing players towards licensed providers in the Netherlands.

According to him, advertising enables consumers to better distinguish between licensed and unlicensed providers because they recognise brands from advertisements and sponsorships.

He is concerned that the advertising ban may lead to an increase in players choosing unlicensed providers who do not provide adequate player protection measures.

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