New online gambling regulations are in force in the Netherlands following the launch of an iGaming code designed to limit ads and promotional bonuses. The Licensed Dutch Gaming Providers (VNLOK) operator association has signed off on a voluntary advertising code that limits promotional activities from gambling providers in the European country. This code, known as ROK, builds upon existing legislation and is intended to protect vulnerable individuals and young people in the Netherlands’ newly licensed gaming environment.
VNLOK is among the most influential associations in the Dutch market and includes a number of major players in the country, such as Holland Casino, FPO Nederland, JOI Gaming, Nederlandse Loterji and ZEbet. While the regulations are not legally binding, all of these partners under the VNLOK association umbrella have pledged to abide by the code. These recommendations will limit daytime ads posted via online channels and will ban bonuses and promotional offers for players under the age of 25.
Building on Existing Laws
The online betting regulations are not wholly new. As part of the Remote Gambling Act introduced earlier in 2021, providers are permitted to operate in the Dutch market as long as they adhere to a strict code of regulation. This regulatory code states that gambling providers cannot advertise their products on television from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., effectively limiting the exposure that young people have to gambling ads. The voluntary code extends this regulation, applying it to all video advertising online as well as ads run on television and radio.
In addition to banning bonuses for under 25s and restricting advertising, the ROK code will include the following points:
- No advertising at all, at any time, on channels with more than 25% under 18 viewership
- No advertising of bonuses across television and radio channels
- No bonuses worth more than 250 Euros ($282)
What’s Next for Online Gambling Providers in the Netherlands?
As mentioned above, the code of conduct is not a mandatory one. Gambling providers are allowed to decide whether or not they will sign up for the regulatory changes. As it stands, ROK will be enacted until March 1, 2023, at which point a new code may be drafted to ensure long-term objectives are met. An evaluation of the code is expected in October 2022.
There are moves to implement other codes of conduct in the Netherlands — codes that could become mandatory rather than just voluntary. The Netherlands Online Gambling Association (NOGA) said that they would welcome new regulations and advertising standards back in September 2021.
New regulations and new voluntary codes are not designed to hinder the operations of online gambling providers. Instead, they allow providers to demonstrate their commitment to social responsibility and sustainability. This is critical for gambling providers moving forward. Regulated online gambling is in its relative infancy in the Netherlands, and the onus is on the industry to prove its value to the economy and to the Dutch society as a whole. Voluntary advertising codes and promotional bonus caps are helping providers achieve this.