Are online casinos allowed to advertise if they have a license

The Dutch market for casinos is quite conservative. There is currently no online casino from the Netherlands with an official Dutch gambling license, apart from Toto. Online casinos do operate, but are only tolerated for the players who join them.

There are several land-based casinos in the Netherlands, including the Holland Casino, Jack’s Casino and FairPlay Casino. The Holland Casino has a monopoly on offering table games with a dealer or croupier. At the same time, Toto has the only possibility to offer online gambling through advertisements. You probably know the ads.

The Dutch Gambling Authority (Kansspelautoriteit) uses legislation from the 60’s, which no longer complies with today’s situation. Therefore, in recent years a new law has been developed, the Distance Gaming Act. In time, this will ensure that we in the Netherlands will finally be able to gamble online completely legally. Before that happens, however, it is interesting to look at the current advertising options. What about them?

Strict Rules on Advertising for Gambling

Compared to other countries, the Netherlands has a relatively outdated and conservative system regarding gambling. Not only are consumers ‘protected’ from gambling online, but also no advertising is allowed. This is in contrast to other countries, where online casinos and other parties can advertise freely. Nevertheless, more than 8 million people in the Netherlands are active in the gambling world, through sports betting or foreign online casino, among others. Why is that? Mainly because of the gray area, through which online casinos still manage to penetrate Dutch living rooms. What advertising opportunities do they have?

Word of mouth advertising

Should (online) casinos do everything themselves with regard to advertising? Certainly not! Word of mouth basically works best. If you have a friend or family member who has gambled online before and the stories are positive, chances are you’ll end up here too. Therefore it’s not at all necessary for an online casino to advertise itself, as long as it offers a good experience for existing users.

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Hiding advertising on television or the Internet

The Kansspelautoriteit in the Netherlands oversees the shielding of advertising from consumers. But no matter what this authority tries, it does not manage to prevent you as a person from coming into contact with casinos. Take for example the various international soccer clubs that get sponsored by an online casino, and believe us, there are more and more of them.

Also on the Internet, advertisements are shown on regular websites regarding gambling, which are actually not allowed. However, this is a grey area, as the Gaming Authority cannot make this system 100% watertight. Thus advertising still slips through and individuals still come into contact with the attractive advertisements of casinos.

Through the Press

Advertising is also sometimes distributed through the press, whether intended or not. For example, big lotteries or jackpots that fall somewhere in the world are often widely reported in the news. There is also a good chance that on the news section they talk about ‘betting on the outcome of an election’. This is probably not an intended advertisement, but it may encourage people to take a look at one of the available online casinos or bookmakers. In the Netherlands, by the way, only Toto, Jack’s Casino and Holland Casino are allowed to advertise publicly.

No advertising on social media

Online casinos and land-based casinos naturally want to generate the highest possible reach from their advertising efforts. And where is a higher reach than on social media. In 2012, at the time of the transition from Hyves to Facebook for many people, the Dutch Gaming Authority made agreements with the developers of Facebook that the ads around gambling should automatically be blocked. This is also called the advertising covenant.

Is a casino allowed to advertise?

If a casino has a license issued by the Dutch Gaming Authority (!), then it is possible to advertise. However, this is and remains a gray area. In principle, real incitement to gamble is still prohibited, but is increasingly tolerated. This is reinforced by the introduction of the Remote Gaming Act, which has finally passed through the Upper and Lower Houses in the Netherlands.

As of July 1, 2021, online gambling will also be fully legal in the Netherlands, after which the Dutch Gaming Authority will most likely start issuing dozens of licenses in a short period of time. The number of advertising options will also undoubtedly become more liberal by then. Until then, however, the possibilities are still limited.