Online Betting Guide

Belgium introduces new gambling reforms

BGC new gambling reforms

Belgium is the latest country proposing restrictions to gambling advertising.

Back in June, the Belgian Justice Minister, Koen Geens, announced plans to crack down on gambling advertising and it appears he has followed through with the support of the Belgium Gaming Commission (BGC).

While the proposed restrictions ban gambling advertisements during live sporting events before 8pm, licensed bookmakers will be able to run ads immediately before and after sports broadcasts in the afternoon, provided they include a responsible gambling message and a disclaimer that minors are prohibited from gambling. The ban applies to all mediums including TV, radio, webcasts and other media platforms.

Gambling companies will also be prohibited from advertising via screen banners and half-time commercials.

Additionally, ads promoting gambling services will be banned from being broadcast during children’s programs, with the ban extended to 15 minutes before and after the show.

Youth sports teams are off limits when it comes to gambling advertising too, including on uniforms and equipment.

Online gambling wasn’t spared, with the minimum age to gamble online increased from 18 to 21 under the proposed reforms.

Marketing materials also have to include responsible gambling messages, with monetary penalties in place for operators which breach the rules.

Land-based gambling operations will also face a regulatory overhaul, with the number of betting shops legally allowed to operate dropping from 684 to 600.

Local councils will be involved in the culling process and they will have more input in regulations including opening hours.

Electronic gaming machines will be capped at four per venue at bars and other gaming venues, while an electronic identity card will be required to operate the coin-only machines.

While the restrictions have not yet been enforced, the country’s Council of Ministers has approved the policy. Additionally, the BGC has issued a statement supporting the new reforms.

Last month, the BGC released an updated version of its blacklist – a list of gambling companies blocked from servicing Belgian players.

While the list is constantly expanding, one gambling company managed to stay off it by blocking Belgian players.

Online betting company Dafabet, which sponsors Scottish footballers Celtic FC, reached out to the Belgian gaming regulator before the Celtics played Belgian Pro League team R.S.C Anderlecht, requesting advice to avoid ending up on the blacklist.

Following BGC’s recommendations, Dafabet blocked Belgian players from accessing its online gambling services in the lead up to the football match.

“The Gaming Commission appreciates the responsibility that Dafabet has taken upon itself to observe the Belgian Gaming and Betting Act, legislation that protects players against unchecked and illegal gambling,” the BGC said in a statement on its website.

The new reforms restrict Belgium’s gambling landscape further, with the BGC threatening to fine players who visit unauthorised offshore online gambling sites.

However, the gaming commission may have its work cut out for it given the recent incident involving local police officers allegedly using private citizens’ data to open online gambling accounts. Reportedly, 30 officers from the officers Antwerp Police Service gambled online using their new aliases during business hours. Under Belgium law, police officers are banned from gambling at casinos and online.