The Netherlands gaming sector, as much any other country’s one, has been impacted by the ongoing spread of the coronavirus /Covid-19/, as mitigation measures across the world imply the same approach of isolation, and land-based gaming facilities are on top of the list of non-essential businesses that face temporary closure.
Online Gambling Ads Illegal
Online gambling in the country is still illegal and will remain so until June 2021, but with no brick-and-mortar facilities Dutch players are left with no outlet, and some online operators started to explore every possible way to mop them, including the promotion of “Corona-Free” products, something that spurred the country’s regulator, , the Kansspelautoriteit /KSA/ into action.
Being backed by a recent court ruling in its favour, the KSA initially fired a warning towards all online gaming operators, pointing out that any attempt to take advantage of the dire situation and channel players by reference to Covid-19, will significantly influence the decision the regulator will be about to make whether to grant an operator a license or not, when the licensing process begins.
Any online operator that is targeting Dutch players is in breach of the current law, as it does not have and cannot obtain a license from the KSA, not until the application process has begun.
Heed The Warning Or Pay The Price
This week the KSA firmed its stance as it posted a message on its website, stating that advertising content that makes references to the coronavirus outbreak situation would be considered as a circumstance that allows for penalty enhancement, by at least €50,000, with the upper boundary of the fine dependent on the nature of the promotional content and its reach.
In addition, the Dutch regulator reminded all gambling establishments that online gambling services in the Netherlands are still prohibited and subject to a minimum of €200,000 penalty, which in case of operators that seek to utilize the virus situation in their promotions would automatically go up to €250,000.
The Dutch regulator is adamant that even land-based operators with licenses are not allowed to mention Covid-19 in any type of marketing, and while Article 4a of the Gambling Act requires businesses to undertake moderate advertising only, the regulatory body has confirmed that any reference to the ongoing virus outbreak in the country will be regarded as a breach. Operators will be punished for such breaches even in cases when these come from their advertising or affiliate partners, as well as from a related review website.
All 14 casinos in the Netherlands are currently closed due to the ongoing measures to halt the spread of the virus and they will remain so until the beginning of April, at least.