- BAGO criticized Belgian lawmakers for approving “populist” gambling measures
- The trade body said the proposed new rules would only hamper player protection efforts
- It is questioning why the National Lottery has been exempted from the new restrictions
The Belgian Association of Gaming Operators (BAGO) has spoken out against a new Bill that proposes stringent gambling measures, saying it will only jeopardize ongoing player protection efforts by Belgian operators.
The trade association, which represents six of Belgium’s largest gaming operators, also hit out at the preferential treatment given to the National Lottery as it is currently excluded from the restrictions laid out in the Bill.
BAGO Says New Bill Will Lead to Black Market Growth
The Chamber of Representatives recently approved a Bill that seeks to introduce a total ban on gambling advertising and raise the minimum age for gambling to 21. The Bill, spearheaded by Green MP Stefaan Van Heckle, will also require players to create a separate account for each type of game they want to play under the same operator.
In a press release, BAGO stated that the measures set out in the Bill would only push customers to unlicensed sites and hamper player protection efforts. The trade body reiterated its support for gambling advertising restrictions but said a blanket ban would have far-reaching consequences.
BAGO argues that the ban will result in more customers shifting to illegal platforms as they will no longer be able to distinguish between legal and illegal providers due to the absence of gambling ads. BAGO said Belgian lawmakers have proceeded with plans to impose the ban despite repeated warnings from the association, accusing policymakers of favoring “populist” formulas over solutions it presented.
On the strict requirement of opening a separate account for each game type, BAGO said such a measure will pose a huge challenge for operators in terms of monitoring risky behavior and taking prompt preventive action. Additionally, it will make it more difficult for players to keep an overview of their gambling activities as they will now have to manage up to three separate accounts.
New Measures Favor Unlicensed Sites, National Lottery
As legislators tighten the rules for licensed online gambling operators, things remain as is for the National Lottery which is questionable, BAGO said. The association did not mince words, saying the new gambling measures would only benefit the National Lottery and the illegal operators as they can continue advertising and offering their services to the most vulnerable groups.