The new Estonian government, formed of a so called “centrist” coalition, are likely to enact legislation that would see the Baltic nation become the next country to enforce a blanket ban on gambling advertising.
The coalition is yet to disclose any confirmation of policy agenda, however, several Estonian news sources have reported that they are in favour of some sort of regulatory enforcement and restriction on gambling advertising, not least to bring their nation in line with many other European nations.
Lauri Läänemets (SDE) has returned to the Estonian government and re-assumed the role of Minister of The Interior. Leading the push for the blanket ban on gambling related advertising. In an interview with EER, he stated that the ban would be the best asset to combat problem gambling and supporting those with a gambling addiction, stressing and reiterating the harm gambling can cause, that experts have warned of for numerous years now.
Läänemets was ardent on his stance that Estonia’s laws are currently too lenient, stating:
People with gambling addiction often cannot break the cycle. It breaks up families, and I would venture to say that the damage resulting from problem gambling can be significantly greater for society
These are not the only steps the new coalition will take to support problem gamblers. EER have also reported that the new government hopes to strengthen counselling for gambling addicts and help all those directly and indirectly affected by it out of difficult situations.
The coalition’s agreement is also said to have even wider socio-economic concerns, including a clause that refers to a ban on advertisements that involve both online gambling and payday loans.
On the other side of the argument, Tõnis Rüütel, Director of the Estonian Gaming Operator Association (EHKL) on behalf of the gambling operators based in Estonia. Beginning by explaining that operators had complied with not only the existing legislation but had also observed rules overseen by the Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority (TTJA).
He also noted that Estonian operators are more than willing to work with the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications to modernise advertising laws.
Estonia is a very young nation and as it stands so is the legislation surrounding an industry such as gambling. Legalising land-based gambling not even 30 years ago and online operations just 14 years ago. The market itself is very young and you get the sense that its growth will be determined by how restrictive or lenient the new regulations will be.
As it stands, Estonia’s 2008 Advertising Act, is already very restrictive but perhaps still amenable to operators. Only allow a select few venues for gambling related advertising, including but not limited to, on the premise of a gambling venue, on international ships/planes, on buildings adjoining airports/ports, gambling provider’s website, and subscribed single- way communications. Along with this however, lotteries are completely exempt from any sort of prohibition.
Advertising related to the gambling sector has taken many peculiar hits as of late, most probably due to recent surge in the popularity of problem gambling in the news media, with large operators being fined, and sports shirt sponsorship deals involving gaming companies being revoked by a host of seminal sports leagues. Perhaps a blanket ban as is being proposed by the Estonian government, will not hinder Estonia’s international ability to attract gaming operators to their Balkan shores.
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