Dutch regulator issues 14 warnings over Covid-19 adverts

24 July 2020

Dutch regulator Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) has revealed that it issued 14 warnings to igaming operators over the use of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic in adverts to promote their gambling products.

Online gambling remains illegal in the Netherlands, but the regulator in March said it had seen an increase in the number of operators targeting consumers in the country with advertising based around the pandemic.

According to the KSA, it has so far recorded 14 cases of operators using terms such as "Coronavrij gokken" (Corona-free gambling) to promote their products to Dutch players.

The KSA issued a warning to the operators demanding them remove the adverts, and in all cases the ads in question were withdrawn. The regulator added that had the operators not dropped the adverts, it would have imposed financial penalties.

In March, the KSA set a minimum penalty of €250,000 (£227,615/$290,254) for operators that did not comply with its orders to remove adverts related to the pandemic.

The rules apply to all igaming operators, affiliates, review sites and unlicensed land-based active in the Netherlands – all of which already face penalties for illegal activity in the country due to the current laws for online gambling.

Though the Netherlands expects to launch its regulated market in July next year, Dutch Minister for Legal Protection Sander Dekker last month warned this could be delayed again after preparations were disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dekker said the roll-out, which has already been delayed by six months, to 1 July 2021, could be pushed back by “a few months” after an Member of Parliament put forward a motion proposing a postponement.

KSA chairman René Jansen also previously warned that if an operator was found to have used the pandemic to promote their gambling products, this could harm their chances of securing a licence for when the regulated market opens.