Measures which would tighten restrictions on gambling advertising in Belgium are being called for by the country’s Justice Minister, Koen Geens.
The Belgium Gaming Commission (BGC) fully supports the proposed measures which would effectively ban gambling ads on TV before 8pm and completely block them during live sporting events in the country in Western Europe, according to Belgian news website nieuwsblad.be.
Going one step further, gambling advertisements that are permitted, but have been deemed to promote “excessive” gambling activity, will also be removed say BGC officials. However, what exactly defines excessive has yet to be decided.
Spokeswoman for the BGC, Marjolein De Paepe, reportedly told the Belgian news website, “We already have the authority for it, but as long as there are no clear rules about what may or may not, we can hardly exert it.”
Under the new proposals, banners that appear on screen during televised games and during half-time commercials would be banned. Also included would be the mandatory implementation of problem gambling warnings in marketing materials of operators as well as fines levied against operators found to be in breach of the new regulations.
Online gambling is now legal in over 20 countries and has been legal in Belgium since 2002. The regulation of the country’s online gambling market launched about six years ago. Under the 2009 Gambling Act, a company wishing to provide an online gambling service in Belgium must also possess a license for a land-based, brick-and-motor operation. And last year, legislation that makes online gambling services taxable under value added tax (VAT) laws was launched by Belgium’s finance ministry.
According to the Gambling Insider report, figures recently published by the Belgian Association of Gaming Operators (BAGO) indicate that internationally licensed gambling sites are only utilized by 15 percent of Belgians. A number BAGO believes will increase by 35 percent if the newly proposed restrictions are imposed on Belgian licensed operators.
The new proposals were reportedly welcomed by Belgian Member of Parliament, Peter De Decker, who said, “For tobacco advertising there are already strict rules and there are ethical standards around alcohol. So something had to happen around gambling. We must not be blind to the fact that more is being cast or for the misery that causes it to people who are hard at all. “