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The Netherlands Gaming Authority (KSA) has hit bet365 with a €400k fine for directing gambling advertising and bonuses at young people.

The country’s Remote Gaming Act states that licensed operators must not direct recruitment and advertising material at people between the ages of 18 and 24 because this group carries a “higher risk of becoming addicted to gambling”.

According to a KSA investigation, bet365 – trading as Hillside New Media Malta – sent ads to young adults between October 2021 and February 2022.

During the period, the operator sent numerous email promotional messages to several registered consumers that could be categorised as young adults, including bonus offers.

In response, bet365 said the laws do not contain a total ban on sending recruitment and advertising material to young adults, unless the content specifically focuses on this target group.

It argued the marketing messages were “general” in nature and were not aimed at a specific demographic, insisting there was no question of a violation in this case.

KSA: “Gaming providers must fully respect the rules intended to protect vulnerable groups. That did not happen here.”

“There can be no advertising ”targeted” at young adults when generic communications are made to all enrolled, verified and eligible players,” said bet365.

Nevertheless, the alleged breach was deemed a “serious violation” by the KSA, which has significantly ramped up its enforcement action in 2023 to date, against both licensed and unlicensed operators.

“Vulnerable groups, such as young adults, must be given extra protection,” said the KSA. “The brains of young people are still developing.

“As a result, they are extra vulnerable to developing gambling addiction. Gaming providers must fully respect the rules intended to protect vulnerable groups. That did not happen here,” it added.

Bet365 can still lodge an appeal against the decision. The full ruling can be read here.

Domestic online gambling operator Toto was hit with the same €400k fine for advertising to young adults back in November 2022.

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