Belgium: minimum age for gambling to rise next month

Most of the changes will apply from next month.
Most of the changes will apply from next month.

Land-based operators will also have new obligations to keep a professional register.

Belgium.- Amendments to Belgium’s 1999 Gambling Act have been published in the state gazette, with most of them to come into force in June. They include an increase in the minimum age for gambling from 18 to 21 for all verticals.

Meanwhile, operators of class one, two and four gambling venues will have to keep a professional register containing the names of people who have access to gaming rooms for professional reasons without checks against the exclusion register, EPIS. Police and Gambling Commission liaison officers will be able to request the register as well as camera surveillance from venues. The amendments also introduce annual meetings between the Gaming Commission and representatives of license holders.

Other measures will apply from a later date still to be defined. These include a requirement for newsagents to check the EPIS and the introduction of punishments for people who use another person’s ID to gamble as well as for the person who lends the ID and any operators that accept it.

An increase in the minimum age for gambling has also been introduced in Greece. Other European countries have rules about the targeting of adverts at young players, who are seen as more vulnerable to gambling harm.

Belgium has already banned all forms of gambling advertising under a measure that came into force in July last year. From September, licensed operators will also be prohibited from offering free bets, bonuses or gifts as incentives, and they will not be allowed to promote igaming on sites that offer sportsbetting, bingo or poker. A ban on gambling advertising at football stadiums is already due to come into effect on January 1, 2025.

The Belgian association of gambling operators, BAGO, has opposed the new measures. Chair Tom De Clercq, said: “BAGO has repeatedly spoken out in favour of limiting advertising, including through traditional media. But we have also always warned that a total ban on advertising in places where illegal operators are massively present, especially online, will have serious side effects. We must once again conclude that policymakers ignore the solutions we have proposed and opt for populist formulas.”

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