Bonuses and Players under 21 Banned by Belgium’s New Gambling Laws

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Belgium appears to be moving closer towards stricter gambling regulations with the country’s Chamber of Representatives approving new measures that were put forward by Green MP Stefaan Van Hecke.

The approval of the measures follows a five-year campaign by the MP. The new regulations are due to come into effect on September 1 and they follow soon after a gambling advertising ban, which was imposed in July 2023.

Bonuses to Be Made Illegal

One of the main changes will be the banning of gambling inducements, such as bonuses and free bets, in order to prevent companies from attracting players with special offers. Furthermore, the legal gambling age is set to be raised from 18 to 21 following a recommendation from the Flemish Expertise Center for alcohol, illegal drugs, psychoactive medication, gambling and gaming.

The center has also called for advertising bans and price increases in order to reduce the risks related to problem gambling and drinking.

The new laws will prohibit all forms of gambling advertising, unless it is explicitly approved by the government, in order to reduce the influence of gambling promotions on at risk players.

National Lottery Excluded

However, the government has come in for criticism as the National Lottery has been excluded from the new regulations. Some consider the National Lottery to be a major contributor to gambling addiction yet it will not be hit by the advertising ban or new age limit.

The exemption of the National Lottery was condemned by MP Jean-Marie Dedecker, who emphasized that the National Lottery is playable by those on the gambling blacklist and that it is particularly popular with young players, particularly its scratch card games.

On the other hand, critics have warned that over-regulation will send players to the unlicensed black market citing a recent survey conducted by the Belgian Association of Gaming Operators (BAGO) that found a number of at-risk players make use of unlicensed sites.

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