Belgium to ban all gambling ads from July 1

Belgium will finally go ahead with a blanket ban on gambling advertising.
Belgium will finally go ahead with a blanket ban on gambling advertising.

Gambling sponsorship will also be banned from 2028.

Belgium.- The Belgian government has decided to go ahead with a blanket ban on almost all gambling advertising from July 1. The country has already been tightening its rules, but the new decree will ban all broadcast and online ads as well as all gambling ads in public spaces.

From July 1, gambling advertising will be banned from television, radio, cinemas, magazines, newspapers, all public spaces and online on websites and social media. This will be followed by a ban on gambling advertising in sports stadiums from January 1, 2025 and a ban on gambling sponsorship in professional sports from January 1, 2028.

From this July, sponsorship expenses will no longer be tax deductible for gambling companies. The government says the ban was decided based on scientific research showing that advertising causes gambling addiction and gambling-related debt.

Justice minister Vincent Van Quickenborne said in a statement: “The government is deeply concerned about the impact of the huge amounts of gambling advertising that our society is facing. And for those who want to get rid of their gambling addiction, the tsunami of gambling advertising is an additional problem.”

Van Quickenborne initially proposed the ban on gambling ads last year. He wanted the sponsorship ban to start in 2024. The Belgian Association of Gaming Operators (BAGO) criticised the proposal, 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.

The Belgian Gambling Commission had proposed strict measures on gambling advertising but stopped short of calling for a blanket ban. It wanted a limit on gambling ads, a ban on personalised ads targeted at certain groups of players and more power to act quickly when rules were broken. 

However, Belgium’s move now follows a similar decision taken next door in the Netherlands, where the government decided to ban all untargeted gambling advertising from this year to delay a ban on sports sponsorship until 2025 to give football teams time to adapt. However, despite being planned for this January, the Netherlands’ ban has not yet been implemented.

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