Belgian Gambling Commission wants limit on gambling advertising

The Belgian Gambling Commission wants more power to tackle advertising offences.
The Belgian Gambling Commission wants more power to tackle advertising offences.

The Belgian regulator has also proposed a ban on personalised ads aimed at young people.

Belgium.- The Belgian Gambling Commission (BGC) has proposed six strict measures on gambling advertising amid government plans to tighten controls. It wants a limit on gambling ads, a ban on personalised ads targeted at certain groups of players and more power to act quickly when rules are broken. 

The regulator said the government should “determine the volume of permitted advertising” but did not suggest a volume itself.

It said that it would like to see general restrictions on who can be targeted by gambling ads, but it particularly wants a ban on targeting personalised ads at young people, excluded players and players who have not gambled for a long time.

It didn’t suggest what age limit would apply for the first of those, or how long would need to elapse for players to qualify as not having played for a long time.

The BGC also called for a requirement to allow all players to opt out of receiving personalised ads. It also wants warning messages to be required for all gambling ads and a ban on advertising in public places like billboards in train stations.

It also requested the power to act quickly when rules are broken and greater flexibility to enforce rules.

It said: “Experience has shown that an exhaustive enumeration of prohibitions relating to the content of advertising, as currently contained in the Royal Decree of 2018, is not sufficient to prevent abuses and excesses, and that certain rules quickly become obsolete and cannot be maintained.

“Guidelines would have the advantage of being ‘future proof’ and evolutionary in order to better reflect the reality and changes on the ground. This would also strengthen the role of the Gambling Commission as regulator.”

It added: “Conducting a lengthy sanctions procedure, as is currently the case, is of no use in the context of an advertising campaign that is short-lived by nature.”

Meanwhile, the Belgian Association of Gaming Operators (BAGO) has criticised government plans to force Belgian players to register for separate online betting and casino accounts. It claims the move could harm safer gambling initiatives.

The Belgian government is considering the requirement to separate betting from online casino in an amendment to a 2019 bill introduced in the Chamber of Representatives.

The original 2019 bill established that operators must split gaming and betting across different URLs but would allow players to use a single account across each operator’s different sites. However, the new amendment would prohibit that, forcing players to register separately for each vertical.

Belgium limits newsagents’ betting hours and advertising

Last month, the BGC announced the implementation of a new Royal Decree on gambling, which imposes restrictions on betting stakes, times and advertising at newsagents in the country. The legislation was approved in February following advice from the BGC.

While the original degree brought in regulation allowing newsagents to take retail bets, the new rules place more restrictions on how they can do that, including major restrictions on how much of their income can come from betting.

There are currently 1,543 newsagents in Belgium that offer betting, including more than 200 in Brussels and 200 in Antwerp. They can now only accept bets between the hours of 6am and 8pm, while no individual newsagent will be able to take more than €250,000 in bets annually, and no more than 20 per cent of its total revenue.

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Belgian Gambling Commission gambling regulation