Netherlands MPs vote to ban online slots and gambling ads

Lea Hogg 1 month ago
Netherlands MPs vote to ban online slots and gambling ads

During the afternoon of 16 April, the Netherlands’ House of Representatives made a significant decision that would reshape the country’s online gambling landscape. The representatives voted in favour of banning online gambling advertising and “high-risk” online gambling, which includes slots. This move signalled a majority consensus for prohibiting all forms of targeted advertising and high-risk games such as slots.

The motions were proposed by Socialist party MP Michiel van Nispen and managed to garner just enough support to pass. The House of Representatives also approved motions for mandatory financial risk checks related to gambling and identification requirements. In total, the house voted on 114 motions during several debates held the previous week. Out of these, ten were adopted, including the ban on all online advertising and games of chance with a demonstrably high risk.

Previously, a motion for a total ban on gambling advertising proposed by MP Derk Boswijk, (pictured above), in February 2024 did not receive sufficient votes. However, a similar motion put forward by Michiel van Nispen this week managed to pass with a slim majority of 77 votes. This new ban is understood to prohibit all forms of online advertising, including targeted ads.

Shift in Dutch gambling landscape

This decision follows the Netherlands’ untargeted advertising ban that came into effect on 1 July, 2023. As a result, mass advertising on radio, television, outdoor locations, and written media were prohibited. Sports sponsorships were also included in the ban, with a transitionary period currently in place for existing sponsorship agreements.

Another motion adopted by Van Nispen focused on online gambling with a demonstrably very high risk. The Socialist party believes that a case should be made for banning games of chance, with online slots used as the principal example. This is because players have no control over the outcome of the game. A majority of 79 MPs voted in favor of the motion.

Despite the majority support for such a ban in the House of Representatives, it will be another case to have this enshrined in law. The responsibility now falls on Franc Weerwind, the Minister for Legal Protection in the Netherlands, to review and approve the law.

Weerwind has been a strong advocate for responsible gambling but has never explicitly expressed a desire for stricter measures. In December 2023, he announced new measures to protect players, including requiring providers to contact players who have set a deposit limit of €350. Operators are also mandated to inform such players of the risks of gambling in high amounts.

Weerwind’s other proposals involve exhibiting financial amounts in euros and pushing for further research on overarching gaming limits. In October 2023, he also announced a multi-year digital resilience campaign program to combat fraud associated with online gambling.

Weerwind stated in a letter that everyone who wants to should be able to play a game of chance responsibly. However, he also acknowledged that responsible gaming can turn into problematic gambling and that players must be aware of this and be protected against it. He noted that research shows that providers encourage players to bet more money than they can afford to lose, indicating a need for more robust protective measures in the industry.

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