Belgian Gaming Commission favours ban on phone-in TV game shows

The Belgian Gambling Commission is calling time on TV phone-in competitions.
The Belgian Gambling Commission is calling time on TV phone-in competitions.

The regulator says legislation is out of date and that its workload in regulating the shows is disproportionate.

Belgium.- The Belgian Gaming Commission (GC) has proposed a ban on phone-in TV game shows, which it says it doesn’t have the resources to regulate. It said the shows now have limited participation and that its workload to regulate them was disproportionate.

TV game shows, in which viewers can phone in to answer a question in the hope of winning a prize, are considered gambling because of the high phone call charges, which the regulator views as a stake. Responsibility for their regulation was handed to the Belgian Gambling Commission in 2006, and they were included in amended gambling regulation in 2010.

However, the regulator says that the legislation is now out of date and that because of changing trends, participation was now too low to justify its workload in regulating them. It noted that there are no active licences and said that it does not have the means to be able to guarantee that shows comply with the rules since it can only base its verdicts on what participants inform it.

It said in a statement: “The GC considers that the existence of ‘game shows’ is no longer desirable and that the 2010 legislation is absolutely out of date. The GC proposes to remove these games from the scope of the law on games of chance and from the sphere of competence of the GC, which will lead to their prohibition.”

Meanwhile, the regulator said that it believed that other competitions run in the media that could strictly be considered gambling, for example, questions to viewers/listeners at the end of a television or radio programme which must be answered by SMS or prize crosswords in a newspaper should not require a licence. It said that such competitions were considered non-hazardous.

“The GC proposes to treat them as card games, lunapark games or other games requiring only a limited stake, whether they are exploited in traditional media or via digital media,” it said.

Belgium has been tightening its gambling legislation with a series of royal decrees. In October, a €200 weekly loss limit came into force and the national self-exclusion scheme was expanded to cover retail venues.

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Belgian Gambling Commission gambling regulation