14 Operators Issued Official Warnings by Dutch Regulators for Violating COVID-19 Advertising Rules

July 31, 2020 3 min read
by Thomas Wolf

The Netherlands’ gambling regulator Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) has revealed that it recently issued 14 periodic penalty payment orders against gambling operators in the country.

The penalized operators and affiliates were all using coronavirus-pandemic related marketing. Some examples given in the regulators’ statement include advertising an online casino as “corona-free” gambling, or coronaviruj gokken in Dutch.

Since the pandemic hit in late February, significant numbers of people in the Netherlands and across the world have turned to online casinos when they either don’t feel safe at land-based venues or can’t access them.

The Netherlands is far from the worst COVID-hit country in Europe, with 6,000 deaths compared to the UK’s 45,000-plus. However, using the effects of the deadly disease as a marketing opportunity has been frowned upon across the continent.

These orders are the first step towards a fine if that behavior continues. They give a grace period for operators to make the relevant changes. If these changes don’t happen, operators and affiliates can face up to €250,000 ($293,000) in charges.

That’s 50,000 euros up on the regular fine for advertising infringements. It demonstrates just how tough regulators are prepared to get on this.

In fairness, they have already given operators and affiliates some time to deal with the issue, so the writing was on the wall. They first warned guilty parties that they would be in line for fines back in late March.

All 14 parties that received the orders have since removed or stopped issuing the offending advertisements.

Objectionable Marketing

Rene Jansen, head of the KSA, said that pandemic-related marketing was “utterly reprehensible” in a strong statement on the matter. He also heavily suggested that infringements here would not be a good look for firms looking to secure a Dutch online gambling license in the near future.

“The parties that are engaging in such activities—operators as well as their advertisers—can expect increased scrutiny by the KSA,” he finished.

The Netherlands’ parliament got together with the regulator just last week to send off the final framework of the country’s Remote Gambling bill for EU approval.

The newly regulated market is set to launch in July next year. So, unless operators expect the regulator to have a very short memory, the wise move would be to cooperate with any rulings now.

Interestingly, all 14 operators and affiliates did exactly that.

That’s despite ongoing rumblings from politicians that the COVID-19 pandemic may result in further delays.

The KSA is one of the most fine-happy regulators in the world, with a record €3.5 million issued in 2019 alone.

Increased Regulation

In addition to enforcing large financial penalties, the Dutch government will be introducing many new powers to the regulator when the legal market launches.

This could include an upgraded self-exclusion scheme, the power to block payment systems and providers, and blanket ISP blocks for consistent rule-breakers.

However, these issues haven’t seemed to put off operators and affiliates—who all want legal access to the estimated €2 billion ($2.3517 billion) market.

Hopefully, advertising departments will learn their lesson on this one.

Keep checking our pages for all the latest updates on the Netherlands’ legal gambling market launch and other stories in the gambling world.

Author

Thomas Wolf

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14 Operators Issued Official Warnings by Dutch Regulators

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