Rarely does an industry lobby for greater restrictions on its own advertising activity – but this is exactly what’s happening in the Dutch casino and sportsbook community, in a push that US gambling companies should keep an eye on.

Recent reports claim casinos and sportsbooks in the Netherlands are encouraging the government to bring in tighter restrictions on gambling advertising.

The Netherlands Online Gambling Association (NOGA), whose members include some of the world’s biggest gambling groups such as Entain, Flutter, Kindred and Bet365, has challenged the Dutch regulator to strengthen its grip on gambling commercials.

It claims the proposed limit of three online gaming adverts per commercial block is not enough. Instead, the NOGA wants companies to come together and agree to higher restrictions – perhaps leading to just one or two commercials being shown per ‘block’ on TV or online.

Yet this move has nothing to do with safeguarding viewers against an overload of gambling ads, but is instead about money.

Saturated market concern

According to reports, the NOGA is concerned too many gambling ads will lead to an over-saturation of the market, and result in a total ban by the authorities.

“The consumer just sees an irritating gambling ad,” said Peter-Paul de Goeij, director of NOGA. “Advertisements of today’s gambling providers are already ubiquitous; on television, radio, internet, bus shelters and in our letterboxes. Let’s face it, consumers find too many gambling adverts just irritating.

“This irritation, and the flooding with gambling advertising, must be prevented. That’s why NOGA has been calling on all gambling providers, online, offline, the Postcodelottery – but also media parties and broadcasters – to sit down and make agreements on the total amount of gambling advertising in the Netherlands, since June 2019 already. We need to do this to temper the growth that is coming, with the legalisation of the online market, and to prevent a gambling advertising avalanche.

“If we do not prevent this from happening, there may be a ban on gambling advertising introduced soon and then we will not be able to persuade consumers to play at a legal gambling site. NOGA therefore advocates advertising volume control.”

The move by the NOGA is similar to those seen in the UK, where sportsbooks have voluntarily reduced their gambling ads in order to not stoke the fires of regulators and risk a total ban.

And it’s something that US casinos and sportsbooks are likely to be monitoring as legal gambling becomes more prominent in the States.

Could America Go The Same Way?

In recent years more and more state legislators have granted permission to gambling firms to operate in their territories. The expansion of gambling in the US has led to big players such as FOXBet, BetMGM, FanDuel and Caesars flooding the market.

It’s not quite the Wild West, but America is currently experiencing the online gambling boom that Europe – in particular the UK and Ireland – witnessed a decade ago.

Ad spend by US gambling firms rose 82% last year and hit its peak during the NBA Finals and Stanley Cup. Three big betting companies – DraftKings, FanDuel and Bet365 – spent a combined $200m on marketing in 2020, roughly 90% of the industry spend.

And the New York Times report that in the first weekend of the 2021 NFL season alone, $7.4m was spent on gambling advertisements.

It goes to show how many dollars the big boys in the US gambling industry are willing to pour into advertising – and regulators will be keeping watch.

The concern in the Netherlands is that an over-saturation of gambling advertising will result in tighter restrictions coming into place, or even a blanket ban. That is what the NOGA is trying to avoid by getting ahead of the Dutch government and calling for more palatable restrictions now.

As we’ve seen in the UK and other parts of Europe, an over-saturation of gambling commercials usually leads to retaliatory legislation – and that could cost the industry big.

So don’t be surprised if US gambling firms themselves begin to lobby for greater advertising restrictions once the initial boom has subsided.

Joe 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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