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Belgium Proposes Raising Gambling Age to 21 for Enhanced Protection



Towards a Safer Gaming Environment: Belgium’s Push to Raise Gambling Age

In a decisive move to enhance public safety and responsible gaming, the Belgian expertise centre for alcohol, illegal drugs, psychoactive medication, gambling, and gaming (VAD) has proposed a significant change in gambling legislation. The suggestion to elevate the minimum gambling age to 21 in Belgium is part of a broader initiative to foster a safer and more controlled environment around gambling and substance use.

Aligning Gambling and Alcohol Regulations for Consistency

Strengthening Legal Frameworks for Public Health

VAD, collaborating closely with the Flemish government and representing over 70 substance and addiction groups, underlines the need for “consistent legislation” across gambling and alcohol regulations. The memorandum released by VAD outlines nine critical priorities, emphasizing three “cost-effective measures in legislation”: price increases, advertisement bans, and limited availability. A crucial aspect of these measures is raising the minimum age for gambling to 21, aligning it with the proposed age for alcohol purchase at 18.

Current Gambling Age Restrictions and Proposed Changes

As it stands, Belgians can engage in casino activities and use slot machines, both online and in retail establishments, only after reaching 21. However, for online or retail betting, the minimum age requirement is currently set at 18. VAD’s proposal aims to bring a unified approach to gambling age restrictions, thus ensuring better protection for young adults and other vulnerable groups from potential gambling-related harm.

Emphasizing Protection for Vulnerable Groups

VAD stresses that restricting access to gambling and alcohol is vital in safeguarding individuals, particularly those in vulnerable situations. This approach resonates with the growing awareness and need for preventive measures in public health and addiction management.


Recent Initiatives in Belgian Gambling Care

This initiative is the latest in a series of efforts to regulate Belgium’s gambling market. In November of the previous year, the Belgian Association of Gaming Operators (BAGO), which represents six leading operators and accounts for 70% of Belgium’s gambling sector, introduced a self-imposed duty of care. This commitment by BAGO members—Ardent Group, Betfirst, Golden Palace, Kindred, Napoléon Sports & Casinos, and Starcasino—focuses on measures to identify and address problem gambling behaviors among their clientele. These measures include a standardized detection system, targeted communication with players, and comprehensive staff training.

The duty of care initiative emerged in response to political criticisms of Belgium’s gambling market, with BAGO members actively seeking to challenge perceptions and demonstrate their commitment to responsible gambling practices. Emmanuel Mewissen, vice-president of BAGO, highlighted the industry’s dedication to upholding ethical standards and dispelling misconceptions in an interview with L’Echo.

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