Belgium's newspaper shops offering gambling required to register, check all customers' age after regulatory reforms
Belgium has imposed tighter controls on gamblers in newsagents after a new package of gambling reforms which obligate shops that offer sports betting and other means of gambling to register all customers and check whether they are of legal age or on a blacklist, starting October 1, 2022.
The new legislation has been introduced by Federal Minister of Justice Vincent Van Quickenborne after bpost sold its chain of newspaper shops to a gambling company. Sports betting popularity is currently on the rise, and responsible gambling becomes a key focus.
Van Quickenborne stated after these tighter measures are fully enforced, more steps will be taken in protecting people against “the devastating consequences of gambling addiction”.
“The list of excluded persons is a powerful weapon that we want to use more often.
Therefore, we also call on all general practitioners, care workers or social workers to use it, in consultation with the person concerned, at the first signs of problematic gambling behavior” he said in an official statement.
More than 490,000 people took part in online betting in Belgium, for a total stake of €6 million ($6.5 million). The share of young people gambling has also risen, with 18 to 20-year-olds now representing 8.7% of online gamblers. People aged 21-29 account for 34% of bettors and 30-39-year-olds represent 27%.
These newly approved and soon-to-be implemented measures are a current practice in casinos and amusement arcades. Newspaper shops, however, have always been in a gray area.
The measure will go into force on October 1st, ahead of the World Cup in Qatar, as statistics show that large sports tournaments bring “an enormous increase in betting”, according to Quickenborne. “For example, during Euro 2020 up to four times as many online bettors registered than outside that period.”
Belgium also keeps a list of people considered to have gambling problems. Those on the list are not allowed to participate in betting or gambling activities. The share of individuals voluntarily adding their names to the list (37,741) has increased by 70% since 2014, and the number of people excluded by the Gambling Commission has increased fivefold in the same period. On average, eight applications are received by the Gaming Commission every day. During Euro 2020, this increased to 12 per day.
“On the one hand, these are worrying figures; on the other, it also shows that gambling addicts are finding their way to exclusion more quickly to avoid worse. We are putting even more effort into raising awareness and making the exclusion procedure even better known.”