Belgium has moved forward with further restrictions on the country’s online gambling industry, as the government initiates a Royal Decree on playing limits.
The Belgian Gaming Commission (BGC) confirmed the changes, which had been made public in the Belgian Official Gazette – the country’s official legislative journal handled by the Federal Public Service Justice.
Most notably, the play deposit limit has been reduced from €500 to €200 on ‘games of chance’ per operator site. Players can request operators to increase the limit back to €500, but their ‘player token’ must be presented to the BGC for this to be processed.
The Commission states that upon receiving a request from an operator – on behalf of a player – to increase a stake limit, the body will question the National Bank of Belgium before informing the betting firm if the player in question’s deposit limits can be lifted within three days.
The decree, published in the Official Gazette on 20 July, will come into effect in three months – meaning that from 20 October onwards, all regulated Belgian betting and gaming incumbents must comply with the reduced play limit.
This follows public statements made by Belgian authorities regarding gambling. Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne in particular has been vocal in his support for further restrictions on gambling advertising.
Back in May, Van Quickenborne proposed a Royal Decree banning most forms of advertising by the end of the year and all marketing in sports by the end of 2024.
The ban would encompass free demonstration games, advertising in printed media, posters in public places, personalised advertising by post or ‘digital means’, and marketing across TV, radio, cinemas, websites, digital channels, social media platforms, magazines and newspapers.
‘Gambling – all the numbers point to an explosion with all the consequences for addiction – is the new smoking,” the Minister remarked at the time.
“Belgium is following the international trend. Italy and Spain have implemented a complete advertising ban and the Netherlands and the UK are working on similar rules.”
The government’s increasingly confrontational stance has received criticism from the Belgian gambling trade association BAGO, which stated that bans on advertising would only serve to benefit the black market.