Dutch Minister reveals potential new measures to cover advertising ‘hole’

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Dutch gambling laws on advertisement are “built more on principles than on very sharp boundaries”, according to D66 political party member Franc Weerwind, Minister for Legal Protection, as he highlights measures to curb such activity in the country. 

In an interview with Netherlands’ financial news outlet FD.nl, Weerwind noted, when quizzed if the time is now for new advertisement measures, that they “will come shortly” and expressed that there is “a clear call” from the House of Representatives addiction treatment centres for greater development in this area. 

He continued: “They have told me that the sheer volume of gambling advertisements leads to unrest among ex-addicts and problematic gambling among people who identify with the role models appearing in the advertisements. That was the reason for me not to wait.”

“I try to include the sector in this, but I also have my own political-administrative responsibility. The law is built more on principles than on very sharp boundaries. The law leaves room and it is up to me to clarify what we intend to do with the law and how we achieve that.”

When asked if there is any “hard evidence” that gambling addiction is on the rise and if there is a connection with gambling advertisements, Weermind stated a firm “no” believing that “it’s too early” for the said link to be made. 

However, the Minister for Legal Protection did emphasise that “there are signs” of addiction experts and social indignation that he stated he will “not ignore”. 

He continued: “The gambling sector itself also sees the problem. The sector has responded well to this by limiting the number of gambling advertisements per commercial block to one on February 1. 

“Now they are introducing additional measures, such as stopping radio commercials, outdoor advertising, print media and further limiting the times when TV commercials are broadcast.

“These are steps that have an effect in the short term. The chamber also wants a ban on untargeted advertising. Any insider knows that the legislative amendment required for this usually takes two years. I try to shorten that period to a year by taking short, quick steps.”

One of the changes coming into force, according to Weerwind’s interview with FD.nl, is the end of role model usage in gambling commercials. 

Currently, the law sets standards for the use of role models, but concerns have been raised that the boundaries could be stretched to be targeted at people who are 25 or younger, which is currently illegal. 

Weerwind stated: “They don’t use a well-known footballer of the moment, but ex-footballers who are still very popular with a young audience. My conclusion is that we need to set sharp, clear standards. So we’re going to stop using role models.”

The suggested package of measures will need to be approved by the House of Representatives, following an open discussion which will be led by Weerwind, as he expressed his openness to additional ideas.