In April 2020 the Belgian Gaming Commission introduced a new monthly deposit limit of 500 euros for online casino players in Belgium. This limit will remain in place until the country’s COVID-19 lockdown has ended.
Belgian online gambling operators are furious
Belgian online gambling operators are certainly not happy about the decision. What’s more: they’re thinking about legally challenging the deposit limit of 500 euros. The Belgian Gambling Industry Association (BAGO) publicly expressed its dissatisfaction with the decision of the Belgian Gambling Commission to impose a deposit limit of 500 euros per customer per week for all Belgian licensed sites.
Resist temptation during COVID-19
The BGC justified the move by saying that gamblers need extra help to resist temptation during their COVID-19 self-isolation. Another reason for Belgian online gambling operators to take legal action is the fact their business is already nearly two-fifths smaller as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Belgian gambling operators don’t want to lose their business and are thus taking steps against regulations. In the summer of 2019, Belgian licensees were already hit by strict advertising restrictions during live sports events, which the BGC recently claimed they did not go far enough.
New limit will be challenged
The members of the BAGO intend to challenge the new limit of 500 euros, which may be further reduced at the request of a customer. It cannot be lifted under any circumstances, regardless of whether a customer can demonstrate sufficient financial capacity to justify higher expenses.
Such a ceiling should be allowed under the old rules, provided that a customer’s finances are monitored by the National Bank of Belgium, known as the Central Individual Credit Register. But even under those rules, a request for an increase would only take effect after three days. It takes a long time so that gamblers are not able to maximise their losses.
Mewissen: No consult with the licensees
Emmanuel Mewissen, president of BAGO and CEO of the Ardent Group, said that Belgian licensees were furious at the BGC to arbitrarily move the goalposts, especially because they didn’t consult with the licensees. As a consequence, BAGO wants to appeal to the deposit limit at the Belgian Council of State.
Efforts are ‘counterproductive’
Mewissen warned that the BGC’s efforts to protect vulnerable gamblers would be counterproductive. Customers are forced to visit internationally licensed gambling sites whose standards and practices are beyond the scope of the BGC’s enforcement mechanisms.
Why are people playing less?
Fact is that Belgian online gamblers already visit international gambling sites. Koen Geens, Minister of Justice, said in Parliament that since the pandemic there has been a drop of 39 percent in local online gambling traffic. At the same time the National Lottery has seen its sales drop by 30 percent. Geens the suspension of most major sports competition activities has led to this slowdown. Another reason is that people in the current climate are losing confidence and playing less, he told the press.