Dutch regulator Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) has announced that it has issued 14 warnings to online gambling operators regarding the use of the coronavirus pandemic in adverts designed to promote their gambling products to citizens.
Online gambling is still illegal in the Netherlands, but back in March the regulator said it had seen a significant increase in the number of operators who were targeting players in the Netherlands with advertising based around the pandemic.
According to the regulator, they have so far recorded 14 cases of gambling companies attempting to use the pandemic to promote their services, including examples of the use of such terms as “Coronavrij gokken” (Corona-free gambling) in their marketing.
The KSA have issued warnings to the operators involved, demanding that they remove the adverts, and they report that in all cases the ads have been withdrawn. The regulator added that if the adverts had not been removed, they would have imposed financial penalties.
In March, the KSA outlined a minimum penalty of €250,000 for operators that failed to comply with its orders to remove any and all marketing related to the pandemic. The rules apply to all online gambling operators, as well as affiliates, review sites, and are in addition to the penalties they already face for illegal activity in the country, which is restricted by the current laws on online gambling.
The Netherlands expects the launch of its regulated online gambling market in July next year, although Sander Dekker, the Minister for Legal Protection warned that this process could be further delayed due to the effects of the pandemic. Dekker said the roll-out of the new regulated market, which had already been delayed by six months to the start of July, 2021, could be pushed back further after a Member of the Netherlands Parliament proposed a postponement.
Gambling operators that breach the rules on pandemic-related advertising could also find it harder to gain a licence when the newly regulated market launches, a warning that was given by KSA chairman René Jansen, although it does not appear to have been heeded by a number of operators.