More than 15 percent of the Belgium population is reportedly patronizing internationally licensed gambling platforms at present. The Belgium Association of Gambling Operators (BAGO) predicts that the figure could soar as high as 50 percent when new restrictions are enforced in the country.
Seeing how online casinos are becoming quite popular among Belgium citizens, the country’s Minister of Justice, Koen Geens, is calling for tougher measures to be implemented on online gambling and sports betting advertisements, according to USAonlinecasino.com.
A big contributing factor to the problem is online gambling TV advertising, which is rampant even though Belgium closely regulated internet-based casinos through online gambling laws that were imposed since 2011. In 2016, the Belgium Finance Ministry even began taxing online gambling under VAT laws.
Speaking of the growing concern in the country, Belgium Gaming Commission (BGC) representative Marjolein De Paepe said, “We already have the authority for it, but as long as there are no clear rules about what may or may not, we can hardly exert it.”
The Belgium government, for its part, has already confirmed that it is willing to implement a more “stringent advertising code” on online gambling and sports betting. Since last year, the Parliament has been reviewing directives for a tougher digital framework for online gambling operators.
Part of the upcoming restrictions is an 8 p.m. ban on sports betting advertising, as well as zero coverage on live sports broadcasts. The Belgium government is also prohibiting athletes and celebrities from endorsing any kind of gambling service or product.
As of late, around 165 gaming operators are blacklisted on the BGC’s website. Players who take part in illegal gambling can face fines from €26 up to €25,000. For illegal gambling organizers, the penalty is between €100-€100,000 (multiplied by surcharges).