Irritations about the frequency and tone of gambling advertising on television are increasing, among consumers, addiction experts and politics. The SP and the Christian Union want to restrict gambling advertising and submit a proposal for this purpose.
“Since the opening of the gambling market, we have been thrown to death with gambling ads that encourage people to gamble as much as possible,” says SP MP Michiel van Nispen. The MPs want to see fewer gambling complaints especially around football games.
Since 1 October, online gambling has been legal in the Netherlands. Eleven companies have a license to offer gambling and are also allowed to advertise it. Restrictions have been imposed when making the law. Advertisements should not target vulnerable groups, should not have role models under 25 years of age and may not be broadcast after 9 pm.
Gambling companies tried to make agreements in an advertising code about what is allowed and is not allowed on top of that, but that code has still not been adopted. The Consumentenbond recently suspended cooperation with it.
According to the MPs, many young people still get to see the advertisements. “Everyone with children aged 9 or 10 knows that they like to watch football games from, for example, the Dutch team,” says ChristenUniemp Mirjam Bikker. “And what do they see in the calm? Gambling commercials. I find that insufferable.”
The SP and ChristenUnie propose to limit commercials for gambling around sports competitions. They also want gambling ads on the Internet not to be shown before 9 pm, just as it is now the case with TV advertising. In the long term, gambling advertising should be banned altogether.
The gambling companies think it is important that advertising is possible. “Until 1 October, we had an illegal offer. Now that there are legal providers, it is necessary to guide players to the legal offer and you need advertising for that,” says Helma Lodders of the Licensed Dutch Online Gambling Providers (VNLOK). “By making agreements with the industry, we try to prevent us from overloading people with advertisements.”
According to TV marketing centre Screenforce, in practice, it is still bad with the number of advertisements. Director Michel van der Voort has determined how many commercials are being broadcast by online gambling companies. Of the 165,000 commercial spots that were on display in October between 9pm and 6am, 2.8 percent were advertising online gambling.
In addition, it should be noted that gambling companies sometimes stop a ‘neighbouring’ (a tag-on) further down the commercial block. That shorter spot is counted as one advertisement together with the longer spot.
Around football games, the percentage of gambling ads is higher. During the World Cup qualifying competition Netherlands-Norway, about a quarter of the commercials were advertising online gambling.
“I call on the providers to work with one spot per commercial unit to accommodate people who are concerned about the amount of advertisements,” says Van der Voort. He points out the use of the tag-on. “If you take it away, you prevent the impression that a block is overloaded with gambling advertising.”
Various complaints have been received at the Advertising Code Commission about advertisements, including against Toto, the company confirms. The Advertising Code Commission checks whether untruths are being told in the advertisements. The committee says that there is a procedure against another provider that will soon be ruled on.
Tony van Rooij, researcher of the Trimbos Institute, is concerned about the joyful tone of the commercials. “The gambling industry is looking up the boundary of what is allowed and sometimes seems to cross borders,” says Van Rooij.
According to him, independent research is needed to know who will see the advertisements. “Is there a lot of young people or other vulnerable people? There must be hard limits on what is and should not be done in the commercials and that must be objectively measured.”