Belgian Government Plans Gambling Advertisements Ban

The days of gambling companies advertising in Belgium may be numbered. A ban is being proposed by the Belgian government but would not cover their National Lottery.

As you might expect, the news of such a move has upset operator association Bago. They say that such a move would not be to the benefit of the consumer. It would also make it difficult for customers to work out which operators are legal, and which aren’t.

There was a recent survey carried out by UGent and Bago have been quoting from this. They are particularly interested in its findings that a third of advertising operators of games of chance don’t have a Belgian licence.

Therefore, if the advertising ban was to go ahead, that figure for illegal operators could well increase. That’s a potential problem for customers of the illegal sites as the level of protection is not as high as for licensed operators.

Bago also referred to the fact the advertising ban will not apply to the National Lottery. 40% of gambling advertisements in Belgium are for the National Lottery. Bago don’t understand why the ban wouldn’t be applied to them, particularly for scratchcards.

A spokesman said: “Studies show, however, that no game of chance is without risk and that, for example, scratch games carry a risk similar to that of sports betting, One can therefore wonder whether the government is really taking a decision here in which concern for the consumer is central.”

The list of complaints by Bago is not a short one. They are also upset about the lack of consultation between the government and the gambling industry. The Minister of Justice says that the gambling advertisement ban had been discussed with legal operators, but Bago disagrees with that.

What does Bago suggest should happen re gambling advertising in Belgium? Their suggestion is to have a general legal framework developed. This could then place duty of supervision on all legal gambling operators in the country.

This would see a requirement placed on operators to monitor how their customers behave. They would then inform those users whose behaviour shows signs of change. Measures such as self-imposed breaks and spending limits being set could be put into operation.

The president of Bago is Tom De Clerq, and he noted the ways legal operators are identifying “problematic gambling behaviours.” The use of algorithms and artificial intelligence are helping to achieve this.

He added that gambling companies are advising those with gambling problems to register on the EPIS list that deals with those wanting to self-exclude themselves from gambling sites. “If we want to fight gambling addiction effectively, this is the way to go.”

The plans to ban gambling advertisements is the latest proposal made by the Belgian government. April saw them propose that Belgian gamblers would have to register separate betting and casino accounts.