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Belgium announces ban on gambling ads, effective July 1

Belgium gambling news

On Wednesday, the Belgium government announced a blanket ban on nearly all gambling advertisements in an attempt to curb addiction and debt in the country.

The new rule will take effect on July 1 and prohibit gambling operators from advertising the activity via television, cinemas, radio, newspapers, magazines, websites, and social media. Gambling ads will also not be allowed in public spaces. Starting this July, money spent on sponsorship will not be tax deductible for Belgium gaming firms.

The government intends to take the law further on January 1, 2025, when it prohibits betting advertisements in stadiums. Sports betting sponsorships in professional sports will also be banned from January 1, 2028. Rather than amateur sports clubs, the new decree will be focused on professional sports clubs.

The decision to enforce the ban was reached based on the results of scientific research that disclosed that gambling-related debt and addiction were a direct result of advertising.

The country started imposing gambling limits in newsagents in early 2022, and eventually, gamblers were restricted from betting more than a specified amount on online gambling games.

The breakdown of the new rules and the enforcement dates were revealed in the Royal Decree, which bore King Philippe’s signature. The decree was published on Wednesday in the Belgian Official Gazette.

In a statement, Justice minister Vincent Van Quickenborne disclosed that the government was worried about the heightened effects of gambling on its citizens.

“The government is deeply concerned about the impact of the huge amounts of gambling advertising that our society is facing. And for those who want to get rid of their gambling addiction, the tsunami of gambling advertising is an additional problem,” Van Quickenborne said.

“After all, professional sports clubs have much higher visibility, their players are role models for minors and these clubs also sell shirts as merchandising.”

While the new rules will significantly impact the advertisement of gambling to the public, individuals who actively search for gambling information can find related information.

Van Quickenborne further explained that the ban would affect the European ruling, which permitted Dutch gaming venues close to the Belgian border to promote their offers in the country. The rules would also affect foreign and domestic casinos.

The justice minister initially introduced the bill in 2022, intending for the sponsorship ban to be in full effect by 2024. He pointed out that the gambling industry was profiting more and more every year due to the people in the country with gambling addictions.

Over 100,000 active gamblers in the country reportedly suffer from a gambling disorder, while a third are saddled with severe addiction.

The Belgian Association of Gaming Operators (BAGO) was part of the parties in opposition to the ban, claiming that it would create issues for gamblers trying to differentiate regulated gaming operators from those running illegal operations.

The BAGO further mentioned a survey carried out by UGent that revealed that one out of over three Belgium gaming operators that advertise online are not licensed and running an illegal operation.

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