March 5, 2024 3 min read

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Belgium Introduces Stricter Regulations on Gambling, Effective September

A crucial aspect of the legislation entails banning gambling incentives, such as bonuses and complimentary bets

Belgium has taken a significant step towards implementing stricter regulations to combat the surge in online gambling addiction. The Chamber of Representatives recently approved a set of new measures proposed by Green MP Stefaan Van Hecke, marking a milestone in a five-year campaign for tighter controls.

Belgium Enforces Higher Gambling Age Limit

The revised regulations are slated to take effect on September 1, following the endorsement received last month, reported Dutch media outlet Het Nieuwsblad. These measures come on the heels of a gambling advertising ban imposed in July 2023, further solidifying Belgium’s stance on responsible gambling.

One of the key provisions of the law is the prohibition of gambling inducements, including bonuses and free bets, aimed at curbing the practice of enticing players with tempting offers. Additionally, the legal gambling age will be raised from 18 to 21, reflecting growing concerns about the vulnerability of young people to gambling addiction.

At the beginning of January, the Flemish Expertise Center for alcohol, illegal drugs, psychoactive medication, gambling and gaming, VAD, proposed increasing the minimum age for gambling in Belgium to 21, aligning with its efforts to prevent harm among young adults. The organization emphasized the need for cost-effective measures such as advertising bans and price increases to mitigate the risks associated with gambling and alcohol consumption.

Moreover, the new legislation reinforces the existing ban on gambling advertisements, going as far as to prohibit all forms of advertising unless explicitly approved by the government. This move underscores Belgium’s commitment to curbing the pervasive influence of gambling promotions on vulnerable populations.

Belgium Faces Backlash for Omitting National Lottery from Gambling Regulation Reforms

While these measures represent a significant step forward in promoting responsible gambling, there has been criticism surrounding the exclusion of the National Lottery from the new regulations. Despite being identified as a major contributor to gambling addiction in the country, the National Lottery remains unaffected by the advertising ban and age restrictions, sparking controversy among some MPs.

Independent MP Jean-Marie Dedecker condemned the exemption, highlighting the National Lottery’s role in catering even to those on the gambling blacklist and its popularity among young people through scratch cards and games that closely resemble those offered by gambling companies.

The tightening of regulations in Belgium reflects a broader trend across Europe as governments grapple with the challenges posed by online gambling. Critics of the enhanced regulations warn of the potential for driving players towards the unlicensed black market, citing a survey by the Belgian Association of Gaming Operators (BAGO), which revealed a significant portion of vulnerable respondents admitting to gambling on unlicensed sites.

Author

Silvia has dabbled in all sorts of writing – from content writing for social media to movie scripts. She has a Bachelor's in Screenwriting and experience in marketing and producing documentary films. With her background as a customer support agent within the gambling industry, she brings valuable insight to the Gambling News writers’ team.

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