According to a press release issued by Belgian Minister of Justice Koen Geens, nearly 30,000 Belgian citizens excluded themselves from gambling (online and land-based) activities in 2017. The total of 29,319 self-excluding citizens was up 9 percent from the 2016 total of 26,782.
An additional 158,413 were banned from all gambling related activities last year by a court ruling. The majority of those court orders came against those that had built up massive gambling debts in previous years. Belgian law states that a court is allowed to ban customers from wagering both online and at land-based casinos if they fall under certain criteria.
Another 409 people were banned from gambling following requests from third party people, such as family members, partners or colleagues. Those requests are tracked and processed by the Belgian Gaming Commission rather than via the country’s legal system.
The press release goes on to say that the number of those excluded and self-excluded from gambling has swelled in recent years. As recently as 2013, just 19,670 citizens opted to self-exclude, while another 82,580 were barred via court order with an additional 89 being restricted via third party request.
Belgium installed the Excluded Person’s Information System (EPIS) in 2004 in order to help curtail problem gambling in the country. EPIS keeps track of all information regarding gambling customers that have banned themselves or been banned from placing wagers. All said customers have their names and dates of birth registered within the system upon opening an account with an online gambling site or a brick-and-mortar casino. The system works to protect those potentially addicted to gambling from themselves.
This past fall, the Belgian government introduced new rules designed to further enhance the existing system. In October of 2017, Belgium’s gambling regulators and lawmakers agreed to put a stricter restriction on the way gambling services are advertised within the nation’s borders. The government made it a priority to put a curb on the proliferation of gambling to potentially vulnerable people.
The new laws prohibit gambling operators from advertising their product during live televised sporting events. Gambling advertisements additionally are not allowed to air before a 10pm locally unless they are a part of a non-live sporting program. The new regulations also brought the hammer down on affiliate marketing using third party websites for the promotion of gambling products and services.
The government and regulators additionally installed a limit of €235 per month in bonuses that may be offered by gambling operators per customer. The new laws say that players may not deposit more than €300 per week into their gambling accounts.
The new laws have not yet come into effect, though it is commonly believed that the government will begin to enforce the new restrictions eight months after they were published in the Belgian Official Journal.
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