Countries all over the world are tightening regulations surrounding gambling advertising, with Romania and Belgium the latest to do so after Australia.
Romania is the most recent country to join the anti-gambling advertising movement with legislators considering new restrictions.
Lawmakers in the country have been calling for a reduction in the number of gambling ads for quite some time, but only now has a bill made headway.
Last year, members of the opposition National Liberal Party proposed a ban on “audiovisual commercial communications related to games of chance” along with a cap on gambling ads via speciality publications and “premises intended for the organisation of games of chance.”
The proposal is only now gaining attention with an associated bill awaiting the Senates final approval before being enforced.
Romanian-licensed gambling operators are not as supportive as their Belgium and Australian counterparts – which are facing similar prohibition.
This is because the bill does not clarify whether operators will be prohibited from promoting their own services online – an exclusion not included in other parts of the world where gambling advertising is being reviewed.
The vague language specifically includes the word “premises” which could ultimately mean online gambling websites, and in turn, result in penalties against the operator who is advertising online.
When it comes to gambling advertising on TV, the bill does not clarify whether it includes both local programming and internationally-developed content rebroadcast in Romania either.
Romanian’s gambling market is only two years old but its regulator the Oficiul National Pentru Jocuri de Noroc has issued 16 licenses to operators, including international gambling brands Unibet, Betfair, 888, PokerStars, and Sportingbet.
Over in Belgium, the intended legislation is a lot clearer.
Belgium tightens gambling ad regulations
Belgium’s Justice Minister, Koen Geens, has announced his plans to tighten gambling advertising on local television broadcasts.
Geen’s proposal is similar to Australia’s new policy, and will prohibit all gambling advertising before 8 pm.
He has gone a step further too, proposing that all gambling ads be banned during live sports broadcasts, including both traditional ads during breaks and on-screen banners during the game.
The proposals may become a reality with the legislative changes reportedly supported by the Belgian Gaming Commission (BGC). The gambling regulator has a reputation of being one of the least lenient watchdogs in Europe so penalties will likely be enforced.
It has also been reported the BGC will have the power to pull ads if the regulator deems them to be promoting “excessive” gambling, even if they previously passed regulatory protocol. What constitutes as excessive is yet to be defined.
The Belgian Association of Gaming Operators (BAGO), which is the country’s gambling trade group, supports the move for a “clear regulatory framework” to ensure “ethical and responsible advertising”. It did warn the government to be careful when it comes to a blanket prohibition.
Belgium’s online gambling industry has been regulated for six years but BAGO revealed 15% of Belgian punters still gamble at offshore online gambling sites – BGC reportedly fines punters who do.
BAGO has warned the percentage could increase to 50 percent if locally licensed online operators are prohibited from advertising as it will push punters to the international sites.
Many of the proposed prohibitions are similar to Australia’s recent gambling advertising measures.
Australian government implements new gambling ad policies
The Australian government only recently revamped its gambling advertisement policies to limit the number of bookmaker ads aired during live sporting events.
The new standards prevent bookmakers and TV networks from airing live odd promotions and gambling services five minutes before and five minutes after a live sporting match or before 8:30 pm, whichever comes sooner.
Australian-licensed corporate bookmakers, including Sportsbet, supported the move, with the real losers being the television networks since they relied on the revenue the ads produced. But the Australian government announced a compensation package which will save the networks $100 million.
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