Use of role models for (online) gambling advertisements passé

Fransje Brouwer / 05 May 2022

On 2 May 2022, the Minister for Legal Protection (Minister voor Rechtsbescherming; “Minister”) published an amendment of the Regulation on Recruitment, Advertising and the Prevention of Addiction to Gambling (Regeling werving, reclame en verslavingspreventie kansspelen; “Marketing Regulation”). More specifically, Article 4 regarding the use of role models will be amended.

Under the amended Marketing Regulation, holders of a license for organizing certain types of games of chance are no longer allowed to use individual professional athletes, a team consisting of professional athletes and role models at all. The prohibition to use the role models as such applies to so-called ‘high risk’ games of chance, among which online games of chance, instant lotteries, land-based sports betting, (land based) casino’s and arcades.

The prohibition is meant to achieve a higher level of protection of vulnerable groups against the risks of risky games of chance. Without role models, advertising for such games is less appealing to vulnerable groups, especially young people, and the normalisation of risky games is prevented, according to the Minister. Moreover, without the use of role models, the Minister believes that the attracting effect of the advertisements on vulnerable groups decreases. The amendment follows shortly after the opening of the online gambling-market in the Netherlands, after which the amount of advertising for online games of chance increased enormously.

Definition of ‘role model’

Role models are defined broadly as “in any case, persons of public renown with whom other persons wish to identify or associate” and include:

  • Persons who derive their fame from activities in the present or past as:
    • professional sportsman, sports trainer or other person with a publicly visible role within professional sports;
    • actor, director, presenter, singer or other person with a publicly visible role in the television, film, theatre, music or other entertainment industry;
    • model, fashion designer or other person with a publicly visible role within the beauty or fashion industry;
    • author, journalist, columnist, influencer, vlogger, blogger or any other person with a publicly visible role due to the use of printed, audiovisual, audio, online or other media;
    • representative of a political party or another person with a publicly visible role within national, regional or local politics;
    • frequent participant in games of chance or another person with a publicly visible role in the area of games of chance.
  • Persons who visibly perform or depict an office or profession that serves as a social role model, such as doctors, police officers or teachers.

The prohibition makes no distinction between the content of recruitment or advertising activities involving the use of role models. Therefore, the use of pictures of role models also falls under the prohibition. License holders are also not allowed to use role models in advertising to raise awareness for the risks of participating in risky games of chance.

Exceptions

There are few exceptions to the prohibition.

Firstly, the prohibition does not apply to recruitment activities that only serve to announce non-gambling-related activities of role models in establishments of casinos and arcades, provided that these announcements do not include frequent participant in games of chance or another person with a publicly visible role in the area of games of chance and do include the date and establishment where the activities take place. For example, using a famous cook in the restaurant or the performance of a singer on location and the advertising thereof will still be allowed.

Secondly, the amendment does not affect the sponsorship of individual professional sportsmen and sports teams. Hence, shirt sponsoring and sponsorship of events and television programs by licensed operators of games of chance will still be allowed. Such sponsorship must involve a neutral mention or display of the name or logo of the licensed operator. The new prohibition does not relate to that. The scope of the prohibition does include situations in which role models promote games of chance during, for example, a radio, television or online broadcast.

Effectuation

The amendment to the Marketing Regulation will enter into force on 30 June 2022. As a result, license holders offering high risk games of chance must have stopped all recruitment and advertising activities in which they use role models before that time.

If you require any assistance in this regard or have any questions regarding the above, please do not hesitate to reach out to Fransje Brouwer or Lisa Uppelschoten.

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