Posted on: July 14, 2022, 12:42h. 

Last updated on: July 15, 2022, 02:31h.

The Netherlands recently announced plans to introduce tight restrictions on gambling advertising and sports sponsorships. However, an update to those plans the government released next is likely to cause confusion among operators and gamblers.

Dutch Parliament frozen
Dutch Parliament building frozen in a snowstorm. The government proposes new restrictions on targeted gaming ads. (Image: AP Photo/Mike Corder)

Currently, the proposals are just proposals. A public consultation will allow for feedback that could alter the course of the new regulations. That consultation is currently in progress.

The government expects to stop virtually all gambling advertising on TV and radio, as well as on billboards and in any indoor space. Limited online advertising is possible. Therein lies the problem. Advertisers have to ensure their creatives are not accessible to anyone under 24 years old.

The Netherlands anticipates major control over what it calls “untargeted” advertisements. The sweeping changes are, according to the government, necessary to prevent gambling inducement and addiction.

Age-Based Advertising

Online “targeted” advertising is fine. However, operators will have to ensure that “vulnerable groups” cannot access the ads. Vulnerable groups, the Dutch government says, include those at risk of gambling addiction and those under 24 years of age.

People under 24 are unable to understand the risks gambling presents, according to the government. They also might be incapable of viewing gaming as simply a form of entertainment.

At the same time, the Dutch government doesn’t apply the same logic to other controls. For example, the minimum age to be a police officer is 18. To enlist in the armed forces, citizens must be at least 17. To determine who will serve in the parliament and shape the future of the country, the minimum age is 18.

In these instances, the government is giving those individuals the authorization to determine, within reason, when to use deadly force. However, that same person, in the government’s estimation, isn’t capable of understanding that gambling carries certain risks.

Damn the GDPR

Apart from the debate over the capabilities of someone 20 or 23 years old, there is also a question of appropriately applying the new rules. The government adds that operators can comply with the guidelines, even though it may “require an effort.”

It explains that operators can use algorithms to avoid advertising to those groups it defines as vulnerable. The use of an algorithm inherently implies analyzing data in order to reach a conclusion.

In the case of the government’s proposed advertising regulations, the data is intrinsically tied to the individual who may or may not gain access to the ads. In other words, the operator’s algorithm has to interpret an individual’s personal details to determine whether he or she can receive targeted advertising.

Four years ago, the European Union came up with a revolutionary change to how it approached personal data. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), in most instances, makes it illegal for any website to collect data without the consent of the individual.

If someone refuses to provide their personal data, they still have access to the target website or webpage. In addition, according to, not all gaming websites require new registrants to include their age when they sign up with an iGaming operator.

Therefore, the task of knowing whether someone is over or under 24 years old becomes a monumental challenge. To say that it may “require an effort” is a gross understatement.

The ad ban is to take effect as of January 1 of next year. The public consultation period for feedback on the proposals ends on September 4 of this year.