Gambling ads have doubled since online casinos were legalized
The number of gambling advertisements has doubled since last year, the Volkskrant reported based on research by Nielsen. In October and November 2020, there were 170,066 gambling commercials in the Netherlands. This year there were 366,631 in that same period.
The rise in gambling ads is mainly due to the legalization of online gambling in October. Eleven casinos in the Netherlands have a license for online gambling.
Of the eleven, Holland Casino spent the most money on advertising during October and November, dropping 6.4 million euros on commercials for its online offering. Toto spent nearly 4.6 million euros. The two firms are owned by the Dutch state. FairPlayCasino has spent 3.3 million euros, followed by BataviaCasino, which paid 3.2 million euros for advertising, and the 2.6 million euros spent by Tombola, the newspaper reported.
The money allowed for a total of about 370,000 gambling advertisements during the two-month period, according to Nielsen. Roughly 273,000 of them were for online gambling. That on its own eclipsed the 170,000 adverts for offline gambling during the same two-month period last year. Nielsen data also showed that about 88 percent of gambling advertisements appear on websites, including social media platforms, which are not as well-regulated as television adverts. Gambling spots can only appear on television during specific times of the day to prevent barraging younger people with gambling messages.
A majority of members of the Tweede Kamer are concerned about the increase in gambling advertisements. They said the commercials can lead to a rise in people addicted to gambling
MPs suggested tightening regulations around gambling ads. The vast majority of gambling ads are on the internet, where they are not subjected to the same restrictions as on TV. The Tweede Kamer wants a ban on gambling ads on the internet before 9 p.m., similar as has been done on TV. They also demanded a ban on "untargeted ads for risk-taking games."
The MPs and experts are concerned about the impact gambling can have on the social norm. "As an individual, I get to see a gambling commerical, but I also know that others see the same advertisements. Combined with legalization, it leads to a change in social norms. It will definitely lead to a rise in addiction," health psychologist Arie Dijkstra said.
Minister of Legal Protection Sander Dekker said he would consider the wishes of the Tweede Kamer but thinks it is "too early" for a ban.
Director of the Consumer's Union Sandra Molenaar has also raised concerns that profit trumps the wellbeing of the consumer and the impact particularly young people who are more susceptible to the ads. "Apparently, the commercial interest of the gambling industry outweighs the wellbeing of consumers," Molenaar said about the lack of regulations surrounding gambling ads that are allowed to be broadcast to children as long as they do not make up more than 30 percent of the audience.