Throughout the Christmas season, Lottery Daily will be revisiting some of the biggest stories of the lottery business world from the past year. This edition will be looking at stories in Europe.
Away from the UK, there were plenty of other significant developments occurring across Europe in 2022, with regulation, advertising and responsible gambling attitudes high on the agenda. However, the most salient and emotionally-charged event of all was surely Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which had far-reaching consequences on businesses across the continent and beyond.
The industry responds as Russia invades Ukraine
On February 24, Russia launched a large-scale invasion of Ukraine, striking and causing devastation to major cities and its citizens. The industry’s response was swift and scathing of the destruction being caused to Ukraine and its people; as an act of solidarity to the war-torn country, the European State Lotteries and Toto Association (EL) suspended the membership of its members in Russia and its ally Belarus. “A true value of the EL membership is to stand united for the benefit of society,” a statement from the EL read.
Lottery and gaming operators across Europe pledged their support to Ukraine, condemning the actions of Russia in the process. The Malta-based sports betting and gaming software provider Aspire Global subsequently severed ties with the Russian National Lottery’s operator Sports Lotteries LLC, citing a “different business view”.
The gambling industry as a whole came together to raise funds for Ukrainians displaced by the Russian military action, with SBC Founder and CEO Rasmus Sojmark among those to help set up a GoFundMe campaign which saw over £250,000 raised.
The conflict shows no sign of imminently abating, but the Ukrainian gambling industry has, like many other trades, shown resiliance in the face of adversity. Anton Kuchukhidze, Chairman of the Ukrainian Gambling Council (UGC), noted a “colossal drop in traffic” during the first couple of months, but the situation did improve from the end of April as the online market played a leading role.
Advertising a sore point in the Netherlands & Belgium
Online gambling was regulated in the Netherlands towards the latter stages of 2021 and thus it was really this year that felt its full effect and the impact on operators. In February, the Dutch gambling authority Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) ordered KOA online gambling licensees to improve the targeting of their online advertising campaigns, and providers of lottery games were prohibited from advertising with famous Dutch people who have a substantial reach among minors and young adults.
As controversy started to grow in the country over gambling advertising, the state-run Nederlandse Loterij breathed a huge sigh of relief as it was cleared of misleading the public by running an advert that appeared to suggest a lottery player would “for sure” win €27.7m. But the KSA continued its close supervision of advertising standards in the Netherlands and, later in the year, reprimanded the lottery for illegally advertising on a football pools site. A stern warning was also issued in July to lottery operators deemed to be infringing upon regulations by offering online gaming elements.
Across the border, similar sentiments were displayed as the Belgian National Lottery decided to refrain from advertising sports betting during the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
Vincent Van Peteghem, Belgium’s Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, explained: “The National Lottery is playing a pioneering role in the protection of players and the fight against gambling addiction. At a football world championship, the sport and the supporter experience must be central.”
Whether the lottery remains quite so in keeping with governmental policies in 2023 remains to be seen, however, following the previous pleas of CEO Jannie Haek to exclude the Belgian National Lottery from plans to ban gambling advertising in the country by the end of 2024.
Nearly all forms of gambling advertising are set to be banned under this measure but Haek has insisted that there are “no problems with lotteries”.