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Belgium Increases Minimum Gambling Age to 21 with New Regulations

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Belgium Raises Minimum Gambling Age to 21: New Regulations to Take Effect

Belgium’s Major Overhaul in Gambling Regulations

Imagine a landscape where gambling is more regulated than ever, with increased protections for younger and vulnerable players.

In a significant move, Belgium is set to implement stringent new regulations, including raising the minimum gambling age from 18 to 21 across all gambling activities.

Discover how these changes aim to bolster responsible gambling practices and what they mean for operators and players alike.

Dive into the comprehensive details of Belgium’s updated gambling laws, their implications, and the reactions from industry stakeholders.

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Belgium Raises Minimum Gambling Age to 21: New Regulations to Take Effect

Comprehensive Amendments to Belgium’s 1999 Gambling Act

Belgium is making sweeping changes to its gambling laws, with amendments to the 1999 Gambling Act set to take effect in June. The most notable change is the increase in the minimum gambling age from 18 to 21 across all verticals, including both online and land-based gambling.

New Obligations for Land-Based Operators

Operators of class one, two, and four gambling venues are now required to maintain a professional register. This register must include the names of individuals who access gaming rooms for professional reasons without being checked against the exclusion register, EPIS. This measure aims to enhance monitoring and ensure that only authorized personnel are involved in gambling operations.

Enhanced Surveillance and Accountability

The updated regulations grant police and Gambling Commission liaison officers the authority to request access to the professional register and camera surveillance footage from gambling venues. This move is designed to increase transparency and accountability within the gambling industry.

Mandatory Annual Meetings

Another significant change is the introduction of annual meetings between the Gaming Commission and representatives of license holders. These meetings will facilitate ongoing dialogue and ensure that all stakeholders are up-to-date with the latest regulatory requirements and best practices.

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Future Measures and ID Verification

Some measures will come into force at a later date, which is still to be defined. These include a requirement for newsagents to check the EPIS before allowing customers to gamble and the introduction of penalties for individuals who use another person’s ID to gamble. This will also apply to those who lend their IDs and any operators that accept such fraudulent transactions.

European Context and Comparative Regulations

Belgium is not alone in tightening its gambling regulations. For instance, Greece has also recently raised its minimum gambling age. Other European countries have implemented rules to protect younger players from gambling harm, particularly through restrictions on advertising targeting young audiences.

Comprehensive Ban on Gambling Advertising

Belgium has already implemented a complete ban on gambling advertising, which came into force last July. From September, licensed operators will be prohibited from offering free bets, bonuses, or gifts as incentives. Additionally, they will not be allowed to promote iGaming on websites that offer sports betting, bingo, or poker. A ban on gambling advertising at football stadiums is also set to take effect on January 1, 2025.

Opposition from the Belgian Association of Gambling Operators (BAGO)

The Belgian Association of Gambling Operators (BAGO) has voiced strong opposition to the new measures. Chair Tom De Clercq stated:

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“BAGO has repeatedly spoken out in favor of limiting advertising, including through traditional media. But we have also always warned that a total ban on advertising in places where illegal operators are massively present, especially online, will have serious side effects. We must once again conclude that policymakers ignore the solutions we have proposed and opt for populist formulas.”

Implications for the Gambling Industry

The new regulations represent a significant shift for Belgium’s gambling industry. Operators will need to adapt to stricter age verification processes and comply with new record-keeping and surveillance requirements. The advertising ban, in particular, could impact marketing strategies and customer acquisition efforts.

Ensuring Compliance and Protecting Players

The primary goal of these changes is to protect players, especially younger and more vulnerable individuals, from the potential harms of gambling. By raising the minimum age and enhancing oversight, Belgium aims to create a safer and more responsible gambling environment.

Conclusion: A Safer Gambling Landscape for Belgium

Belgium’s updated gambling regulations mark a significant step towards enhanced player protection and industry accountability. While these changes present challenges for operators, they are crucial for fostering a safer gambling environment. As Belgium joins other European nations in tightening gambling laws, the focus remains on safeguarding public health and ensuring responsible gambling practices.

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Jerome, a valuable addition to the Gamingo.News team, brings with him extensive journalistic experience in the iGaming sector. His interest in the industry was sparked during his college years when he participated in local poker tournaments, eventually leading to his exposure to the burgeoning world of online poker and casino rooms. Jerome now utilizes his accumulated knowledge to fuel his passion for journalism, providing the team with the latest online scoops.

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