Belgium moves to raise the minimum betting age

  • Belgium looks to tighten casino industry, including raising betting age and bans on advertising
  • Proposed bill comes courtesy of the country’s Christian Democratic and Flemish party

Belgium has one of the most tightly regulated betting industries in Europe and if politicians have their way those laws could tighten further. Moves are afoot to raise the minimum gambling age from 18 to 21. The proposed bill has been introduced by the country’s Christian Democratic and Flemish (CD&V) party and if passed into law would apply to all forms of gambling in Belgium.

belgium underage gambling

At present, players must be 18 to participate in the country’s national lottery or to wager on sports online. Belgian online casinos however currently mandate that players must be over 21 to join.

Protecting young adults

The legislation is intended to protect young adults and individuals who may be vulnerable, although it’s as yet unclear how raising the gambling age will specifically help those who are most at risk.

Belgium is known for being an officious country with tight regulations governing most aspects of its citizens’ lives. Gambling was legalised in 1999 with the introduction of the Betting and Gaming Act, followed a few years later by a revision that incorporated online gambling. Since 2011, operators have been allowed to apply for a gaming license to the Belgian Gaming Commission.

Evidence suggests that the vast majority of Belgian punters have elected to play at officially licensed sites, with only 15% choosing to wager elsewhere. As a deterrent, the gaming authority has the power to fine gamblers who play at unlicensed sites.

One in five 17 and 18-year-olds bet

CD&V’s justification for seeking to raise the minimum gambling age is based on studies showing that one in five 17 and 18-year-olds have bet online. There’s nothing to suggest these individuals are at a higher risk of developing a problem, but the Belgian political party remains undeterred.

This isn’t the only law that Belgian officials are trying to push through to tighten up the sector in the country; Justice Minister Koen Geens is also seeking to ban betting-related adverts before 8pm and to prohibit them from being aired during sporting events.

This is despite gambling operators already being forced to include clear warnings with their adverts designed to combat problem gambling. Gambling might be legal in Belgium, but for operators and players alike, participating is becoming increasingly difficult.

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