Belgian lottery suspends sports gambling ads during World Cup

Belgium plans to bring in a complete ban on gambling ads from the end of the year.
Belgium plans to bring in a complete ban on gambling ads from the end of the year.

Federal finance minister Vincent Van Petegrem said the lottery would not advertise via radio, TV or print during the World Cup in Qatar.

Belgium.- The Belgian gambling regulator issued a message of caution to operators ahead of the World Cup. Now federal finance Minister Vincent Van Petegrem has confirmed that the government had decided the national Lottery would not advertise sports betting via radio, TV or written press during the tournament in Qatar.

He said in a press release: “The National Lottery is taking a leading role in protecting players and fighting gambling addiction. At a World Cup, the sport and supporter experience should be central.

“Advertising for sports betting should have no place in broadcasts or reports via television, radio and written press. The National Lottery is already setting a good example by not advertising its sports betting on these channels.”

During the 2018 World Cup in Russia, the Belgian Gambling Commission found that half of the newly registered gamblers were gambling for the first time. Van Petegrem believes that advertising promotes this trend. He also said that the lottery would continue to play a leading role in tackling gambling addiction and channelling players towards safer gaming environments in future years.

This will include the use of strict play and deposit limits, as well as sponsorship and advertising restrictions. A €200 weekly loss limit came into force in Belgium last month. Van Peteghem said he will soon propose more changes in parliament in a new National Lottery policy letter.

The Belgian National Lottery had been accused of effectively buying Belgium’s proposed ban on gambling ads, under which it would be the only operator allowed to advertise. The national newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws reported allegations that the lottery had unfairly influenced ministers by lobbying for the ban.

Belgian minister for justice Vincent Van Quickenborn‘s proposed royal decree banning gambling advertising covers all types of gambling, both online and land-based, with the only exception being the Belgian National Lottery. Sports teams will have until the end of 2024 to drop gambling marketing deals.

The Belgian Association of Gaming Operators (BAGO) has heavily criticised the decree, saying it would cause players difficulty when it comes to distinguishing legal from illegal operators. It highlighted a survey from UGent showing that one in three gaming operators that advertise on social media in Belgium are unlicensed and operating illegally.

Now media reports claim that the lottery, which accounts for 40 per cent of gambling advertising in Belgium, wrote to secretaries of state Sammy Mahdi and Eva De Bleeker offering to pay the government an extra €30m in fees over three years in exchange for an advertising ban to limit competition against its products.

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gambling regulation sports betting