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Belgium set to slash weekly online gambling deposits to Є200

Belgium gambling news

Last week, the Belgium Council of Ministers unanimously approved a proposal to amend the Royal Decree on Games of Chance and the Protection of Players (1999).

The amendments, which were proposed by the country’s Justice Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, Vincent Van Quickenborne, call for a slash on the current online gambling weekly deposit limits, among other things.

If the Decree becomes law, gamblers in the country will be forced to observe a weekly deposit limit of €200, down from the current limit of €500 per week. However, the new cap will apply to each website, as opposed to the existing limit which covers all online gambling platforms. This means that players might still be able to deposit more money if they have accounts with multiple betting sites and online casino operators.

Following the approval by the Council of Ministers, the draft proposal is now set to be reviewed by the Belgian Data Protection Authority. If the body signs off on the changes, the proposed measure will head to the Belgian Council of State for final approval before becoming law.

New limit to replace 2020 temporary restrictions

The proposal to amend the 1999 Royal Decree comes in the wake of similar calls to cut gambling spending and set deposit limits across several countries in Europe.

The recent proposal builds upon a set of temporary player protection measures implemented by the country’s regulator in April last year. Among the actions taken by the BGC at the time was introducing the mandatory €500 weekly limit to cushion players from the potential risk of gambling huge amounts due to isolation and boredom during the COVID-19 pandemic.

If Quickenborne’s proposal is adopted, the temporary restrictions will be dropped, and operators will be required to observe the lowered weekly deposit limit of €200. Gambling operators found breaching the law will be penalized by Belgian Gaming Commission (BGC), and they will also be compelled to return the excess funds to customers.

The regulator will team up with the National Bank of Belgium to enforce the law. The partnership will see the two entities ink a new cooperative agreement that will enable them to work together to establish a centralized player registry for consumer protection and affordability to gamble.

The UK government is also considering enforcing an affordability cap in its ongoing Gambling Act Review.

EPIS to be amended under new law

In addition to revising the existing online gambling deposit limit downward, the Justice Minister’s proposal also calls for an update to the Belgium’s self-exclusion system.

Established in 2004 in a bid to curb problem gambling, the Excluded Persons Information System (EPIS) is a database comprising names of all excluded persons. The system allows players to register for self-exclusion if they feel that they have a gambling problem. Interested third parties can also submit exclusion requests to the BGC if they want to protect someone with a gambling addiction.

When joining an online casino, betting site, or virtual slot machine arcade, Belgian players are required to provide their names and date of birth, and the details are then checked against EPIS to confirm that they are eligible to access and use the platform.

The Belgium government has applauded the system in the past, calling it a powerful tool in the fight against problem gambling.

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