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KSA chair warns of crackdown if operators fail to moderate advertising

| By Daniel O'Boyle
René Jansen, chairman of Dutch regulator de Kansspelautoriteit (KSA), has ordered licensees to reduce their advertising, warning the industry that politicians already perceived there to be too much in the market.

In a blog post looking at the year ahead, Jansen said that in the short period since the Dutch market launched on 1 October, advertising had already become a controversial topic.

In December, he pointed out, the Dutch parliament approved a resolution calling on the government to ban untargeted ads for “high-risk” forms of gambling.

“It has of course not escaped my notice that the amount of advertising, especially for online games of chance, is causing quite a stir,” Jansen explained. “An important part of the General Consultation on Gaming in the House of Representatives on 15 December was about this. It became clear that political patience when it comes to this subject is very limited. 

“The House has already passed several motions calling on the government to put an end to gambling advertisements. The new cabinet will soon have to adopt a position on this.”

Jansen referenced a previous blog post, before the market opened, where he warned licensees may see public opinion turn against the industry if they did not show moderation in advertising, even if their actions were entirely within the law. This had already happened in other countries and led to much harsher restrictions for operators, he noted.

“Everyone understands that some degree of advertising is needed to entice players to switch from illegal to legal providers, but don’t overdo it, I would say,” Jansen said.

Last month, operator association Licensed Dutch Gaming Providers (VNLOK) agreed to a voluntary advertising code for online gambling in the Netherlands. This code, which will be followed by members including Holland Casino, FPO Nederland, JOI Gaming, Nederlandse Loterij and ZEbet, includes limits on bonuses and daytime ads online.

Jansen also thanked outgoing minister for legal protection Sander Dekker for his work in spearheading the legalisation of online gambling in the Netherlands.

Dekker announced last week that he would not be part of the country’s new government, which is set to take office on 10 January.

Replacing Dekker will be Franc Weerwind. Weerwind, a member of centrist party Democrats 66, has been mayor of the city of Almere since 2015.

Jansen also provided an update on online gambling licensing. Currently, only 11 operators are licensed to offer online gambling in the Netherlands, with many being ineligible for licences due to the country’s “cooling-off period” for operators who accepted Dutch customers without a licence. Initially, only 10 operators received a licence, before JVH Gaming & Entertainment Group was approved in November.

With a number of operators such as  Entain, Kindred Group, 888, Betsson, Leovegas and Casumo agreeing to block Dutch customers as they await licences, Jansen said players should expect to see more players in the market by the end of the summer.

“The Gaming Authority (KSA) is currently processing quite a few applications,” he said. “At the end of the summer there will be a much more complete picture.”

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