Featured in this article:
  • Dutch block celebrity gambling ads in its media
  • UK to follow, while Belgium seeks to implement restrictions
  • Ontario also bans celebs, while Massachusetts lawmakers could do so too

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Netherlands has banned celebrity gambling ads to help protect problem gamblers

The Netherlands has become the latest country to restrict the use of celebrities in online gambling commercials, going further than the Canadian state of Ontario in outlawing celeb endorsements.

Dutch politicians have pushed through the change in legislation in an effort to crack down on probable gambling.

The European country formally introduced online gambling and sports betting to its markets last year, but has been cautious about how games and sportsbooks are advertised.

Broadcaster NOS says that 17% of all online gambling accounts in the Netherlands have been opened by people aged between 18 and 24. These are considered the most vulnerable to celeb-endorsement products, and so a ban on celebrity endorsements has come into effect.

“It may help,” Tony van Rooij, from addiction institute Trimbos, told NOS. “We know that using famous faces in advertising campaigns can influence behaviour.”

The ban comes as neighbouring country Belgium also considers a total wipeout of gambling commercials. The Belgian government has proposed a blanket ban on all forms of betting and gambling advertising, with the expiation of the country’s National Lottery.

UK To Join Ban

Meanwhile, the UK will introduce a similar ban to that of the Dutch later this fall. Sports stars and celebs will not be permitted to advertise gambling-related activities as of October 1. The rules come into place just a month before the soccer World Cup in Qatar, where sports betting firms are expecting to make big profits.

Sportspeople, social media influencers and celebs who are “likely to be of strong appeal to children or young persons, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture” will be unable to advertise gambling and lotteries.

It comes as the UK prepares for an overhaul of its gambling legislation to bring it up to date with the industry. Britain’s gambling landscape is still governed by the 2005 Gambling Act. Over the past 17 years the boom of online gambling means the legislation is now not fir for purpose.

Ontario Also Bans Celebs

While many countries in Europe are now tightening their restrictions on gambling advertising after almost two decades a freely available commercials, in North America states are only just figuring out how to grapple with it.

In Ontario, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission (AGCO) has outlined strict advertising measures that prevent gambling companies from over-cooking their offers to players. This incudes a restriction on when prospective players can receive targeted marketing, and which celebs can advertise.

The AGCO standards prohibit advertising that “feature celebrities or public figures whose primary appeal is to minors.” It’s a small step in the same direction as the UK and Netherlands, but still a long way from a blanket ban.

What About the US?

Meanwhile, in America, the decision on how heavily to restrict gambling commercials and the use of celebrities is down to each individual state.

Massachusetts lawmakers are currently considering restrictions to sports betting ads, including:

  • Banning marketing that could “disrupt” a viewer’s experience of watching live sports
  • Limiting promotional betting incentives
  • Banning advertising when 85% of the viewership is under 21 years old

No other US state has so-far gone this far in restricting gambling advertising. Last winter firms were spending hundreds of millions of dollars on marketing during a land grab to attract punters to their sportsbooks ahead of the Super Bowl.

Almost as soon as the last football was thrown on the 2021 NFL season, the advertising machine wound down. Firms like DraftKings and BetMGM are still heavily invested in sports betting commercials, but falling stock prices have forced them to reconsider their approach.

Joseph Ellison

Joseph is a dedicated journalist and horse racing fanatic who has been writing about sports and casinos for over a decade. He has worked with some of the UK's top bookmakers and provides Premier League soccer tips on a regular basis. You'll likely find him watching horse racing or rugby when he isn't writing about sport.

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