New Regulations İn Online Gambling Laws İn Belgium

Belgium Implements New Gambling Protection Measures: What You Need to Know:

Belgium is set to implement new gambling protection measures starting from 1 September 2021, as confirmed by Kansspelcommissie, the country’s Gambling Authority. These measures aim to enhance consumer protections and address concerns regarding underage gambling and irresponsible advertising practices. Here’s a closer look at the key changes and their implications:

Raising the Minimum Age for Gambling

One of the most significant changes introduced by the new measures is the increase in the minimum age for gambling to 21 years. This decision follows the approval of amendments to the Belgian Gambling Act of 1999 in January. The Chamber of Representatives endorsed a decree proposed by Green Party Minister Stefaan Van Hecke, signaling a commitment to tougher compliance measures in the gambling sector.

Expanding Restrictions on Gambling Venues

Prior to the decree, Belgium had already enforced a 21-year age restriction on access to land-based casinos and arcades. However, the new rules will further restrict gambling activities by prohibiting bars, clubs, and recreational centers from operating slot machines. This move aims to reduce the accessibility of gambling opportunities, particularly for younger individuals.

Tightening Gambling Advertising Regulations

In addition to age restrictions, the decree also imposes stricter regulations on gambling advertising. Belgium had previously implemented a blanket ban on gambling advertising, which came into force on 1 July 2023. From September onwards, licensed operators will no longer be allowed to offer free bets, bonuses, or gifts to entice customers. Furthermore, they will be prohibited from promoting ‘games of chance’ on their websites, necessitating a separation of customer access to such activities from other wagering verticals like sportsbook, bingo, and poker.

Grace Period for Football Stadium Advertising

Despite the comprehensive ban on gambling advertising, a legal intervention by Belgian Pro League football clubs has secured a grace period until 1 January 2025. This allows for the conclusion of existing advertising contracts and permits gambling advertising exclusively at football stadiums during this period.

Industry Response and Future Implications

While the implementation of these measures has been welcomed by consumer advocacy groups, it has met with opposition from industry stakeholders. The Belgium Association of Gaming Operators (BAGO) expressed concerns about the total ban on gambling advertising, citing potential difficulties in distinguishing legal operators from illegal ones.

Tom De Clercq, Chair of BAGO, emphasized the importance of balanced regulation that addresses the presence of illegal operators while maintaining a competitive environment for licensed operators. The debate surrounding gambling advertising is likely to continue as policymakers navigate the complexities of consumer protection and industry interests in the evolving online gambling laws in Belgium.

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