Belgium is cracking down on gambling ads as the country seeks to prevent the normalization and trivialization of gaming and betting. The decision, signed by King Philippe himself, comes amid what Belgian people call a “tsunami of advertising.”
Under the Royal Decree signed by the Belgian king, gambling ads will be dramatically restricted starting July 1, 2023. The measure aims to mitigate problem gambling in the country and reduce the number of people in debt because of gambling.
While the rules will hit the market with an immediate effect on July 1, there will be a transition period that will allow the gambling industry to adapt, Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne said.
Van Quickenborne, who minted the “tsunami of advertising” phrase, said that Belgian citizens are constantly bombarded with gambling ads. He also noted that the government is very concerned about the negative impact these adverts have on locals, arguing that ads provoke irresponsible gambling. Van Quickenborne added that the constant advertising makes it very hard for problem gamblers to overcome their addiction.
Belgium Will Continue Tightening the Rules
Belgium began its crusade against gambling in early 2022 when it limited gambling in newspaper shops. It followed that decision with a limit on the maximum amount players could spend when playing online. As part of that latter decision, the government banned gambling ads from TV and radio channels.
Under the new regime, gambling ads will also be banned on websites and social media platforms. Real-life posters will not be a viable alternative either since they are included in the ban.
This will not be the end of Belgium’s war on gambling ads as it also plans to prohibit all gambling advertising from sports stadiums. Starting January 1, 2025, all imagery of gambling companies will be removed from Belgian sports fields.
In addition, from January 1, 2028, restrictions on sponsorship deals between sports clubs and operators will also be introduced. The Belgian government made sure to announce this upcoming measure in advance, respecting current contracts.
Some are not very happy about the changes as gambling companies tend to be some of the biggest sponsors of pro sporting events. Some even believe that the ban on ads may cause the “end of soccer,” at least as people currently know it.
Lastly, it should be mentioned that people who actively seek gambling content may still be targeted by gambling ads.